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Review: Robert Lindsay shines in Prism

One of Britain's most celebrated actors is appearing, alongside an outstanding cast, at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday (November 23).


Prism, written and directed by Terry Johnson, looks at the latter years of legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff, when the man who had worked on some of the 20th century's greatest films and who was adored by some of world's most beautiful women was trying to write his autobiography while also suffering from dementia.

Set in Cardiff's garage at his home in the village of Denham, Buckinghamshire (though in reality he lived in Cambridgeshire), the play stars Lindsay as Cardiff, Tara Fitzgerald as his wife Nicola, Victoria Blunt as his carer Lucy, and Oliver Hembrough as his son Mason.

Surrounded by memorabilia from a lifetime of ‘painting with light’, the writing of an autobiography should be easy – were it not for the fact that Jack would now rather live in the past than remember it.

Sporadic and inconsistent memories of his fascinating past come through in ever-more imaginative ways - with old actors he worked with even making an appearance (impressively played by the other cast members) - and Lindsay portrays Jack brilliantly, his vulnerability and confusion really shining through.


Ultimately, the play is desperately sad as Jack's behaviour becomes ever more erratic and his inability to remember even the simplest things in his recent and faraway past truly highlights the tragedy of progressive memory loss.

There are plenty of funny moments, but not of a level befitting the raucous laughter coming from the person behind me, and some lovely touches on the set, such as a pair of red shoes (from the 1948 masterpiece The Red Shoes) hanging from the ceiling.

The backgrounds are great too. The garage is expertly created and portraits of famous actresses hang on the wall and change.


A jungle backdrop from one of his most famous films sets the scene at the start of the second half - all to illustrate the famed cinematographer's fragile state of mind - and some of Hollywood's most iconic actors are vividly brought to life.

I might have got slightly bored at times throughout the play were it not for Lindsay's mesmerising performance, which really brings Jack Cardiff to life and made me want to learn more about him.

I believe a film of his life is planned - let's hope it gets made.

Prism is on at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday, November 23.

The play starts at 7.45pm each day, with 2.30pm matinee performances on the Thursday and the Saturday.

Tickets: £25-£45


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