[author-post-rating] (3/5 stars) The team behind Kubrick3 wastes no opportunity to remind their audience that the show is based on completely true events, and it’s easy to see why. Alan Conway was a man quite like no other: a casual fraudster, a con-artist, an alcoholic, a fantasist; the list genuinely does go on. But the thing that really propelled him to fame, the thing with which writer/Director David Byrne is most concerned, is the three year-period Conway spent casually impersonating the reclusive, Oscar-winning director Stanley Kubrick.
“Casually” is not a word used lightly here – Conway didn’t bother to try to look like Kubrick, learn the details of his life or even watch any of his films. He just told people he was Stanley Kubrick and they believed him, because they wanted to.
By the Kubrick period, Conway had already been lying about his identity and origins for some time, and PIT choses to reflect this in its production by having four actors portray Conway simultaneously. The point they seem to be making is that there was no real Alan Conway – he was not so much a man as a set of lies, exaggerations, fantasies and contradictions. We cannot get to the bottom of him because he did not, in the conventional way, exist.
Unfortunately, this is pretty theatrically unsatisfying. It’s hard to see the point in taking a look at such an interesting figure, only to conclude that we don’t understand him and never could, so shouldn’t really try. It’s not a boring conceit, but it feels like style over substance, because it’s hard to say what Conway’s story gains by being staged. You find yourself excited for it to finish so that you can just go and have a poke round his Wikipedia entry instead.
The direction is impressively slick and fast-paced, and the cast are entertaining to watch, although having so many Alans on stage speaking in the same shrill voice (and not actually much, a video clip eventually reveals, like Conway’s own) does get somewhat grating. Nonetheless, it isn’t that but something altogether less quantifiable that keeps this potentially entertaining show from coming together completely. The right elements are all in place – but Kubrick3 never quite clicks.
Kubrick3 can be seen at the Pleasance Courtyard, every day until 26 August. For more information and tickets, visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.