Sunday, 14 September 2008

3CR Review > The Real Thring

Reviewed by John Gunn on Sunday, 14.09.08 for 3CR’s “Curtain Up”
Sundays at 1.00pm on 855AM.
This new play by Barry Dickens looks at the life, death and fame of Frank Thring, to many an enigma, an actor who specialised in flamboyancy and the creating of a persona, yet as we watch this story unfold we see a remarkably different man to the one we have seen on stage, screen and TV. Yes he was outrageous to the public eye, however there was also a private loneliness and to me a sadness within .

For those who don’t know about him, Frank Thring was a well known Melbourne Actor and son of Frank Thring Snr. who produced movies before World War 2 and owned the Regent Theatre in Collins Street, he died when the young Frank (educated at Melb. Grammar School) was only 10 years old…. and there is much to suggest that he was a spoiled brat even at that early age.

He grew up to enjoy great acting success in England with contemporaries such as Vivien Leigh, Lawrence Olivier and was a close friend of Robert Helpmann… He found fame in Hollywood movies such as Ben Hur, El Cid, King of Kings with his villainous and saturninely crafted persona…. After his overseas success, he worked extensively for John Sumner’s Melb. Theatre Co, made local movies such as ‘Mad Max’, did commercials and even became King of Moomba….

This is not a biography or a campy impersonation but a story that lets us into the mind of Thring and playwright Barry Dickens has carefully constructed a piece that is both a kaleidoscope and a roller coaster ride that takes you on a fascinating journey…

The dialogue is witty, often foul and is constructed with much rhyming followed by an aside or throwaway, the latter so typical of Thring….This theatrical yet often dramatic piece is well-layered and the reminiscences in the dialogue move about, timewise – almost from birth to death..…. From my slight acquaintance (as a young man) with Frank Thring some decades back now, I was riveted by both script and performance and believe that both actor and playwright have been true in the image they have conveyed…

Wayne Pearn has directed with compassion and a certain tenderness without shying away from the grossness that keeps you totally engaged for the running time of 90 mins. . Michael F. Cahill as Frank Thring gives a tour de force performance with his strong voice and excellent diction and brings out the many facets that made this complex man a household name from the 50’s through to his death in the late 1990’s, despite being loud, sarcastic, vulgar and prey to too much sex and booze – always clad in black with ostentatious jewellery……..

The setting of just a chair centre stage and a small table (with, naturally, a bottle and glass) never detracts from the performance and enhanced by Stelios Karigianus’ excellent lighting, sits admirably in the space at 3RRR, where Frank Thring spent many hours in his later years….

Yes I did enjoy this production by Hoy Polloy of Barry Dickens The Real Thring and it continues at 3RRR in Nicholson St, East Brunswick tram stop 27 until the 27/9 at 8.15pm and 5 pm Sunday and you can book on 9016 3873... or

Highly recommended to sophisticated and adult theatregoers.

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