Simon McBurney’s latest theatrical experiment is another trailblazing success, telling the story of legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans 

Words: Tobias Gourlay   Photos: Johan Persson

Theatre review The Kid Stays in the Picture Royal Court - credit Johan Persson

Last year, Simon McBurney used virtuoso sound design and his own substantial talent to transport audiences across the UK to the Amazon jungle for The Encounter.

This year, he’s breaking new ground from the director’s chair, taking the Royal Court back to golden-age New Hollywood, where Robert Evans once reigned supreme. With the backing of Evans himself, McBurney has stripped back the old mogul’s memoirs and thrillingly reconfigured them for the stage.

Theatre review The Kid Stays in the Picture Royal Court - credit Johan Persson

On this particular stage, mics line its front. A group of actors take turns to play Evans as tenacity, happenstance and no small amount of charisma help him avert uncounted disasters to deliver Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown and The Godfather to the world. 

All the while, a cameraman moves around, filming the live action. His images are projected behind the stage. Sometimes, another camera projects onto a fridge (much more compelling than it sounds). In the middle of it all, the old Evans (Danny Huston) is a shadow figure and largely disembodied authorial voice.

Theatre review The Kid Stays in the Picture Royal Court - credit Johan Persson

The remarkable effect of this multi-layered production is to embed the audience into the action – to embed them into Evans' memories, in fact. It’s a deeply immersive experience, perhaps of the sort that you hear fashionable people talking about these days – but on a profound and artistically important level.

Who else but McBurney could have done this? Tell us, if you know.

Until 8 April

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Theatre review The Kid Stays in the Picture Royal Court - credit Johan Persson

Theatre review The Kid Stays in the Picture Royal Court - credit Johan Persson

Theatre review The Kid Stays in the Picture Royal Court - credit Johan Persson

Theatre review The Kid Stays in the Picture Royal Court - credit Johan Persson