Review: An Audience With Steven Berkoff @ SDH
Level 3, Saint David's Hall
Put simply, Steven Berkoff is either a name you have heard of, or not. You may find yourself thinking his face is familiar and you can't quite place him. His extensive repertoire of films, photography, writing, adaptations (into plays), theatre practicioning and, of course, acting have propelled him into the heights of cultural praise and respect.
With an immensely intimidating personality, he arrived on-stage with Phil Morris for an unforgettable evening. This demeanour kind of disappears as we hear Berkoff talk about so much. I wish this event had been longer. I'm sure this audience of acting students, the media and culture geeks lapped up every minute.
The remarkable thing about Berkoff is his brutal, sobering and totally honest views on life, TV, the theatre, and more. He outrageously remarks that it is the BBC (with some discerning people involved there) that causes criminals today due to their poor TV programmes. There might be something in this. Berkoff could have very easily picked a life of crime in London's East End in decades gone by (he was born a few streets away from the Kray Twins), but the fact is, he chose not to. The drama seen on his TV screen is what moved and inspired him to go into acting. He spoke of Eastenders and how it trivialises the everyday with mundane storylines and nonsense. The laughter was abound, as the audience were shocked and greatly amused by his snipes at all corners. I know he was joking when he said he did not know of our Royal Welsh College. Putting on a jokey Welsh accent might just not save you every time...
In films, such as Octopussy, Beverly Hills Cop and Stanley Kurbrick's A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon (a story about Patrick Magee that has me in a titters) people must have seen him in at least one film. As an artist, he is second to none. "Any training is good", he said towards the end of the Q&A session. The fact he finds no plays of merit for some decades is a great concern and when he pointed this out, it saddened my heart a little. There are good playwrites out there, but are we getting anything radical? His physical theatre is outstanding in its immediacy and brutality. The things I would do to be in one of his shows!
Looking at my many illegible notes from the night, it doesn't matter that I can't read them. I have been so inspired by Mr. Berkoff. A photo together and an autograph finished the grand night, even if he was quick to say "Next!" after I was done with him.
What a man... what a spirit!
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