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Liev in Betrayal

Liev in Betrayal

With Liev off filming Mental in Australia, at least as far as I know, there will be little to report until he finishes, except perhaps for some early film pictures or behind the scenes shots.

Until then, I thought I’d trawl through some old reviews of his on stage performance, and I realised that he has such a wealth of praise, and very little display of it! So, I am going to publish some of this praise here!

Aside from the multitude of voiceovers he does for documentaries, of which he receives hundreds of tweets a month, speaking of how brilliant he is as a narrator, and some of the tweeters often talk about how they would love Liev to narrate their own lives, and that he could make paint drying sound interesting (!), I occasionally find pings in my inbox from a published source speaking of Liev’s unending talent.

Matthew Libatique was the cinematographer for ‘Everything is Illuminated’ and said this about Liev –

“One of my favorite films. (Director) Liev Schreiber is one of the smartest, most thoughtful people I’ve ever met, with the soul of a true artist. We had big ambitions as this was a very beloved novel, very deep and dense, and he just took a piece of it and made a great, intimate story about this Jewish man’s search for his lost heritage. We shot in the Czech Republic, there were big language problems and so on, and it was basically working with an older Russian actor, a dog, and a brilliant non-actor, singer Eugene Hutz, all anchored by Elijah Wood. A very uplifting experience.”

Going back to his stage work, I managed to dig out some old reviews from his performances in both his Hamlet (1999) and Betrayal (2000) performances from some of the members of his old site. I cannot post the full reviews, as I do not have permission to do so, but I can post snippets of what they saw and what they thought.

Hamlet Reviews –

From a lady known only as ‘Peep’.

We saw two performances, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Both were frenetic and exciting, with a distinctly Serbanesque flavor. The first performance had a moderate pace that held your attention if not always your thoughts; however, the second was played to a faster tempo and seemed to pull you along throughout the entire show. The second was definitely an improvement over the first.

As you all know, the shining star of the entire event was The Man, Liev, himself. The subtle nuances that he lent the character, the raw sense of vulnerability that imbued his Hamlet surely seduced the audience. His body language combined with his speech commanded the role with nothing less than excellence and sheer romantic verse. His comedic approach took you to a bitter high, then with a look he would change him completely and lead you on to a rollercoaster of emotion. You felt for Hamlet, you knew the journey to Hell he was taking. Liev conveyed this to perfection. Kudos to him on a sparkling undertaking of an often over done, flatly played character.

From Angie herself, the owner of Liev’s former website.

I found Serban’s interpretation insightful, mostly because it allowed meaning to be attached to some passages that I would never have fathomed.

As for Liev, I felt he brought us an amazingly vulnerable Hamlet. He was strong and measured one minute and then melting with emotion whenever in the presence of his mother. He was a boy who holds his mother as a figure of such control over his moods, no matter what sort of disdain he felt when looking at her. Liev’s Hamlet was a man fighting each and every minute with the dichotomy of his inner feelings.

Like Liev’s performance in “Cymbeline”, his performance in Hamlet proved him to be the one actor on the stage with a real and total talent for building a relationship with the audience.

From a lady called Yvonne.

I thought it was pretty gutsy to make Hamlet so unsympathetic- it almost makes more sense for him to die in the end then because he wasn’t totally innocent (I’ve never considered killing Polonius a sin. People do make mistakes, you know : )

That was one of the most amazing things about Liev’s performance was his ability to do such a 180 from an infantile state of bereavement to an adult man with the weight of the world in guilt on his shoulders.

I, too, was impressed with the subtlties in Liev’s performance. He never goes for the easy display of emotion. I most loved when you could see the tears well up in his eyes, but he held back. Very classy.

Betrayal Reviews –

From Melissa Byers, who helped Angie run the site, and who is also a member of our forum.

Probably the most difficult element to believe in the characters is their matter-of-fact attitude, but therein lies the true measure of the actors.  One of Pinter’s recurring themes is the way in which people try to hide from their own emotions.  This may be a particularly British trait, or at least one which Americans seem to have thrown to the winds that blew in Jerry Springer, Ricki Lake and their ilk.  The genius here is that the actors, while saying their lines in that very clipped accent, still manage to convey the inferno roiling beneath.  It shows in the way Binoche and Schreiber dance around their past in the opening scene, and the slight crack in Slattery’s voice as he stoically accepts his wife’s confession of her affair with his best friend.

I cannot imagine three more capable actors for these roles. Liev’s Jerry is a man trying desperately to keep himself together while obviously falling apart.  The audience is never sure if he is more distraught over losing his lover or his best friend, perhaps because Jerry isn’t sure.  Like the others, he is trying not to show his vulnerability, but that vulnerability is painfully apparent – to everyone but himself.

Angie’s Review.

I *do* think that such an intimate play would have been better suited for a smaller theater, perhaps even in the round. Liev, Juliette and John all did fine in form and accent and without being biased I can actually say that Liev looked to have an easier time of it, though. He seemed more at ease, more natural. I still hold, though, that in time they will all be buzzing along without a glitch.

As you can see, even in a play where the setting and direction isn’t perfect, Liev’s performance still shines brightly. Without seeing them myself, I cannot give my own (probably biased!) review, but I have a feeling that in some aspects at least, he does carry a production from okay or average, to brilliant!

I look forward to the day when I can finally see him on stage myself!!

Seph7 – Liz



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