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Click on the images below for links to the plays and reviews
click for link Acapulco

At about 70 minutes, "Acapulco" is not so much a drama as a chapter of his autobiography, concerned with a time when he found himself in Mexico whiling away location hours at a bar on call to Sylvester Stallone as the heavy in a Rambo movie.

Berkoff, like other expatriate actors before him, rapidly assesses the Faustian bargain with the movies: "Hollywood," said Clive Brook as long ago as 1933, "is a chain gang, and we lose the will to escape. The links of our chain are forged not of cruelties but of luxuries: We are pelted with orchids and roses; we are overpaid and underworked."

Sixty years later, the characters in "Acapulco" come to much the same conclusion; assembled in a hotel bar on location is a rough gathering of bit players and extras, and a transient hooker ("a vagina attached to a life-support machine," as one of them elegantly defines her) all there to give voice to Berkoff's rambling thoughts on the off-screen lives of international moviemakers. There have been better plays on this subject, but Berkoff in his present vein is going for moody, fragmentary impressionism in a series of interior monologues with no real dramatic shape or intensity.

click for link Actor
Bruce Weber, New York Times, 4 Feb 2002

It's a depiction of a familiar type- the narcissistic and painfully self-centered performer- in a familiar vein. In this man's two-faced relations with other actors, in his addiction to women who will slavishly adore him and in his sad dealings with the expectations of his parents, he offers few variations on the theme that we haven't seen before. And as both writer and actor, Mr. Berkoff leads us toward a conclusion that his character is a comic one, worthy of mockery.

And yet there is a compulsive edge to the behavior Mr. Berkoff enacts here, a tense neediness that beads on the character's forehead like sweat. Mr. Berkoff keeps him in constant motion, strutting in an aggressive mime's walk that communicates that life is passing, time is moving forward, even as he stays in one place. And the sympathy for this misshapen soul that slowly accrues in Mr. Berkoff's portrayal makes it evident that the man is a sufferer; he has a condition. It doesn't seem outrageous to claim that Mr. Berkoff loves this character as he loves himself, another man who is pathologically an actor.

click here for link Agamemnon (link is down)
Joseph Bowen

Steven Berkoff has taken this great play and made it more vicious and at the same time more accessible than the original. This production by European Repertory is a highly stylized, atmospheric, gripping experience which begins when you walk into the theater. You are in a large open space, the walls of which are metal sheets attached with rivets. Three gutted pigs made of wire hung from the ceiling. Two towers of metal trash cans form a Greek column proscenium, and three piles of tires serve as all purpose props and set pieces. At center, a large Red door, behind which awaits Agamemnon's death. Ominous organ music greets you.

click for link Agamemnon
phantompong live journal 13 Aug 2007

Berkoff's version modernises the content but keeps the form. You can get away with staging this version in a traditionally Greek style. I was looking at the section titled "Battle One", which has two soldiers on stage: "I am fighting for Troy/I am fighting for Greece" etc., followed by a Chorus verse, and then Paris's wooing of Helen in a "high sung soprano" followed by another Chorus verse. Berkoff doesn't state explicitly state entrances or exits, they are always implied by exposition. Therefore it's possible for the fight to be staged separately from the Paris/Helen scene, and possible for it to be staged together. I suspect Berkoff meant for the two to be staged together because they are listed together under one heading. Might seem like very little to go on, but his version has little structure mapped out besides the occasional heading, which is very illuminating (Legend of Curse, Song of Lineage and Events, Battle One, Battle Two and so on). Also, as I mentioned, if you drop the unity of time from the Greek form it must be replaced with a very clear delineation of episodes (broadly speaking, not the very specific Greek episodes), which is what I think Berkoff is trying to do here.


click for link Agamemnon
John Berger, starbulletin.com, 24 Oct 2003
Photo Jeremy Pippin

Berkoff Agamemnon

The problematic aspects are elsewhere. The use of a chorus to provide narration and commentary is a quintessential part of ancient Greek theater, but much of the individual dialogue comes across as theatrical recitation. Aeschylus' story is rife with torment and soaked with blood, and the recitation conveys little sense of it.

click here for link

Amy Lee Bennett´s site with photos by Unicea Buster of the Risley Theatre production. Recommended.

Steven Berkoff Agamemnon  Steven Berkoff Agamemnon

Steven Berkoff Agamemnon

Steven Berkoff Agamemnon

click here for link Berkoff´s Women (link is down)

Linda Marlowe   Linda Marlowe   Linda Marlowe

click here for link Berkoff´s Women (link is down)

Though she hasn't Berkoff's ability to grab us by force and put emotional half-nelsons on us - and who has? - [Linda Marlowe is] a splendidly versatile, confident performer. ... You don't feel, as you might, that Berkoff is indulging in male self-flagellation or offering up mantras of mea culpa. His writing is about as un-wet as writing gets. Nor do you feel, as you also might, that he is patronising women as poor, pitiable victims. Nevertheless, there are scenes when he and Marlowe show us female pain as well as female envy and anger: a wife despairingly appeasing a bullying husband by cooking and more cooking and, best of all, the failed good-time-girl in My Point of View.

The Bow of Ulysses
AF Harrold 2006

It avoids any hint at conversation, with each character speaking in long soliloquies, before passing the baton to the other.  He feels he has wasted twenty years married to her, she believes he'd have been nothing without her support. The truth, as truth always is, is more complicated and the sides switch around and explore one another, without ever touching in conversation. Again this is stylised and entirely effective.

At one point, as a declaration of love, Tom says "Listening to you I hear the music. Following you I climb the mountain". There in two phrases are love, devotion, the difficulty and inevitability of it summed up.  But of course, Tom doesn't leave it there, he pushes home his disappointments, until eventually, in truly Berkoffian style, he is left hunkered down, small, insignificant and roundly emasculated. But Mary hasn't won either, because love isn't a competition.

At all times one has the feeling that perhaps nothing is actually being said, that these soliloquies are nothing more than that – streams of internal thought – that come the morning, come later on that day they'll curl up together to watch the telly, or go to the pictures.

  Brighton Beach Scumbags


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