The Great Ridolphi is a Narnian-esque adventure that takes the audience on a jaunt across the globe.
Steve Turner in the The Great Ridolphi at Blue Room Theatre. Image via Adam Mitchell.
What do you get when you mix a missing Spanish painting, an Interpol agent, a rural Irish farmhouse, a bearded lady and an Aussie lad with a suitcase of assorted clues? Well ‘The Great Ridolphi’ of course, the latest offering by the refreshing and relatively new independent West Australian company, The Last Great Hunt.
These are the only words I need to see on a local theatre poster here in Perth, as anything ‘The Last Great Hunt’ has previously produced has the midas touch, and leaves at least this audience member feeling like an enraptured child who once again believes in the wonder of the power of theatre.
The Great Ridolphi is a Narnian-esque adventure that takes the audience on a jaunt across the globe, courtesy of Victor O’Meara, the only son of the late ‘Great Ridolphi’, a famous magician and escape artist.
The play begins a decade after the great Ridolphi's death. Victor, played by Steve Turner, unravels the story while portraying a number of characters – including a Scotland Yard art fraud detective who suspects Victor can lead him to a stolen artwork and an Irish nun (among many others). As Victor deciphers the contents in the battered suitcase left to him by his father, he is lead on his own Amazing Race in order to unlock the details of his fathers departing trick.
Steve Turner plays all the characters with skill and subtlety, which demands that you follow him in his extravagant journey. His positioning, accents and dynamics create a fast-paced sense of conversation and movement. With Victor's own health issues becoming apparent, the relationship between himself and his mysterious father is revealed – a relationship that is clearly as complex as the great Ridolphi himself.
It is a becoming tale told in many voices by one man, but the breadth of the subjects broached are begging for a more developed show. The bones are beautiful, but one can taste the missing meat.
The Great Ridolphi is a short, punchy show that debuted at Fringe World in 2016, and the script has been trimmed, costumes changed but the mystery, intrigue and complexity of the characters, their relationships (or lack thereof) and the meaning behind them is sadly unexplored to the extent the characters demand.
The lighting was simple but clean and well designed for a one man show. The set was simple and effective, and the use of rear projection is a clever and rarely seen way of presenting location that allows virtually seamless movements within an otherwise static set.
The show was an hour long, and ended almost too abrubtly, terminating the audience's journey before the true profundity of Ridolphi's legacy could be revealed.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5
The Great Ridolphi
Created by Chris Isaacs, Adam Mitchell and Steve Turner
Director: Adam Mitchell
Writer: Chris Isaacs
Designer: Trent Suidgeest
Sound Designer: Ben Collins
Stage Manager: Georgia Smith
Cast: Steve Turner
The Last Great Hunt
Subiaco Arts Centre
28 June – 1 July 2017