altTony Tanner’s imaginative rendition of Sergei Diaghilev’s culturally rich life was enjoyed by a woefully small audience. This was a real shame, because Tanner’s impressively long and varied career on stage and screen shone through as he brilliantly encapsulated the character of such an interesting subject.

Tanner has the sort of voice that was made for theatrical monologue. Despite the bare stage it felt as though he ought to be sitting by a fireplace draped in cigar smoke at a high society function. Becoming the character of an outwardly homosexual eccentric, the progenitor of the ‘Ballet Russes’ at the turn of the twentieth century, came to Tanner with ease, his expressiveness and overblown gestures feeling perfectly suited to his eccentrically camp character.

The subject matter, however, may be better received by those with a similar passion for classical ballet: those with a similar zeal for Stravinsky, Nijinsky and ‘The Rite of Spring’. Even such an accomplished actor as Tanner could not completely hold my attention, his classical allusions and convoluted metaphor to mask gay innuendo often strayed too far from the narrative thread.

Charlatan is a triumph on many levels, but without a background knowledge of the subject matter it may be difficult to really appreciate the intricacies that bring the performance together.

Assembly @ Assembly Hall, 5-30 Aug (not 16, 23), 5.30pm

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