My Perfect Mind OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    June 10, 2015
    Closing:
    June 28, 2015

    Theater: 59E59 Theaters / 59 East 59th St., New York, NY, 10022

    Synopsis: 

    Acclaimed classical actor and two-time TONY Award nominee Edward Petherbridge was cast as King Lear, when on the second day of rehearsals he suffered a stroke that left him barely able to move. As he struggled to recover Edward made a discovery: the entire role of Lear still existed word for word in his mind. From being on the brink of playing one of Shakespeare's most revered roles, to lying in a hospital bed surrounded by doctors, Edward never imagined what tragedies and comedies lay in store for him. "My Perfect Mind" celebrates the resilience of the human spirit through the prism of Shakespeare's great tragedy, however, it's anything but a tragedy.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF My Perfect Mind

    ‘My Perfect Mind’ Softens Fear of the Fallible With the Stuff of Slapstick

    Ben Brantley

    June 17, 2015: Having a stroke is like going to a carnival in “My Perfect Mind,” the deceptively jolly account of a traumatic chapter in the life of the actor Edward Petherbridge, which opened this week at 59E59 Theaters. Finger painting, cannonball tossing, wacky costumes, silly vaudeville sketches and a perilously sloped, funhouse-style stage (with a trap door) are among the diversions on offer in this production, part of the Brits Off Broadway festival. But all the merriment spun by the two performers here, Mr. Petherbridge and Paul Hunter, is chilled by an awareness that the mind of this play’s title (which is taken from “King Lear”) is a very fallible instrument. As Mr. Hunter explains in the opening scene, when the brain suffers trauma, “it swings around inside the head until it comes to rest in what we call the drop zone.” And to illustrate the point, Mr. Hunter flings the previously mentioned cannonball into a crate of shattered crockery. By the way, for the occasion, Mr. Hunter has donned a white lab coat, a curly blond “Three Stooges” fright wig and a hokey German accent to portray a scientist of the cerebellum named Dr. Witznagel. Yikes! Or should I say, Yuks! Anglophiles may recognize Dr. Witznagel as a kind of caricature who shows up in British farces like the “Carry On” film series or “The Benny Hill Show” on television. And theatergoers allergic to this style of comedy may feel a sneeze coming on. But if you stifle that sneeze and stick around for the succeeding 90 minutes of this screwball memoir of a show, directed by the acclaimed actress Kathryn Hunter, you’ll find there’s cathartic method within the music-hall madness.

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