by Lisa McKeown
Richard Willis’s one-man show about being born into a theatre family, becoming an actor himself, and finally moving to Canada, is a pleasure to watch. Willis is classically trained, which is obvious in his style even before he tells us about his time at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His tone is crisp, polished, and captivating. In spite of the fact that it’s on the longer end of Fringe shows at 90 minutes, my attention never wandered.
The tone of the piece is both entertaining – we hear about his at times awkward, at times touching, and often hilarious, experiences with big-name theatre and film actors – and confessional, as we hear about his romantic relationships which were exposed mercilessly to public scrutiny. And yet, towards the end, I found myself wondering what exactly the play was about. It was a life story, sure, about theatre and love and relationships beginning, then falling apart, new beginnings and the death of parents. But I wasn’t quite sure why we were hearing this story, what the crux of it was. “I always loved acting because it gave me a place to hide,” he confesses at one point. I was left wondering if those opposing urges – evasion and confession – were in tension in this piece. Regardless, this production demonstrates a wonderful balance of skill, structure, and insight into the life of theatre.