1 June 2013

The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice at Pentameters (gripping)

Pentameters Theatre is not that easy for me to get to so I try to include a visit there with something else. This time I went to a matinee at the Arcola theatre and then stopped off at Hampstead Heath on the way home on London Overground to take in an evening performance.

The big pull for me was that the playwright was Robert Calvert, more known as poet and lead singer for Hawkwind.

I had seen The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice before, at the Hawklords Implosion in December 2009. Then it had been included in a day of music and had been somewhat lost in the mix, especially as it was performed in a noisy bar where some people were more interested in talking loudly that watching a piece of theatre.

No such problem this time and a packed house settled down quietly for the two-man show.

The play takes place in one location, an United States Army Airborne School airplane, on a training exercise for parachutists. The minimalist set represented this with a metallic background with the Stars and Stripes and a USAF roundel on the floor. That was all that was needed.

The play tells a story about Jimi Hendrix (played by By Raphael Teixeira) during his brief period in the US Army. The only other character is his officer (Matthew Leonhart).

The story revolves around Jimi's refusal to jump, despite having done so many times before, and the resultant conversation with his officer who tries to understand why he has done so. We learn that Jimi had had a premonition about his future life as a rock star and that is what had scared him.

For the next hour I followed their gripping conversation as we learnt more about Jimi and also about his officer. The conversation recognised both the situation (Jimi's refusal to obey an order) and their relative ranks so we got a mix of formality (Yes. Sir!) and of personal insights.

The dialogue was good and the acting was too with both characters utterly convincing in their demanding roles. It was a gripping story told simply, effectively and dramatically.

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