JARMAN (All This Maddening Beauty)

Performed by John Moletress
Written by Caridad Svich
Produced by force/collusion
Unity Theatre, Liverpool
4th November, 2014

Reviewed by Andrew Millar

‘Jarman (All This Maddening Beauty)’ starts with a skilful piece of physical theatre by actor John Moletress. Dressed in high heels and a collar ruff, all in white , as the script declares, a “queer angel”.

He struts awkwardly with dramatic tics of the body. There are a few examples of this physical abstraction by the actor, it is skilful and works well to punctuate the spoken text and slips in time, voice and character.

This is a one act, one man play that tells the times and story of film-maker Derek Jarman.

John Moletress begins as a young man who has an epiphany of his physical and spiritual senses after watching Jarman’s film ‘Sebastian’. Scenes from the film are projected upstage whilst the actor describes how it profoundly affected his sensibilities.

Attributes such as “transgressive beauty” and “this boy liked to dare, he spent his life daring” are claimed for Derek Jarman.

After this initial 15 minutes, the play did not show any great poetic heart, it did not settle on what it wanted to show about Jarman and his life and work, and tried to tell and fit in a lot about everything chronologically. I wanted to hear more about Derek Jarman’s influence on the character, more questioning of it, and not the actor’s loud praise and mimicking.

I am not sure why the actor had to use a hand held microphone to deliver his lines when he could have just said them, and he was mostly poorly illuminated and confined to centre stage when his skill was best downstage addressing the audience close up in spotlight.

The play is a reminder of Jarman’s unique cinematic ability and voice.

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