Photos – Natalie Boog
It is a remarkable actor who can introduce you to the likes of Lear, Vanya and Tevye all in one night, a challenge which might automatically scare some actors away. Nevertheless, it is this feat which Henri Szeps (well known for his role of Robert the dentist in Mother and Son) attempts in Wish I'd Said That, as with ease he conjures up these and the many others characters that make up the list of roles he wishes he had been given the opportunity to play.
It is not all self-indulgence though. The size of the audience, which nearly fills QUT's Gardens Theatre, indicates the measure of love for Szeps, and the many fans can count themselves just as lucky to see him tackle these roles as he is to perform them. His trademark comic timing knits the show together, the gags he slaps out keeping the show lively while other sections ponder through some deeper and darker material.
The one man show, which is the third Szeps has written for himself, takes the audience deep into the heart of modern day psychological rumination, namely the Foggadieu Retirement Home where Szeps' character Joe Bleakley has recently found himself a resident. It is fitting that Joe, too, is an actor, or was before he insulted or argued his way out of every role he could be given. After filling a lifetime with memories and missed chances, he has found himself left with a rapidly crumbling relationship with his daughter and a list of characters and songs he plans on performing before his time is up. What else is there to do but take this material and piece it into an act to be performed for the rest of the Foggadieu crowd at their talent show?
The lyrics to The Impossible Dream come up time and again as Bleakley wonders how he could have achieved it all; acting, healthy relationships with his children and wives, fame and fortune, and still have remained happy and intact. You can't help but feel that throughout the show, though, with a wink and a gentle smile, Szeps is instead sending out the opposite message, encouraging his audience to give up on having it all and continue to try their best, live their fullest and, if they've still got something left in them at the end, to go out with a bang.
Henri Szeps certainly isn't leaving anything in the tank as he tours Wish I'd Said That around the country. Complete with raving rants and a few musical numbers, it is a surprisingly subtle and clever show, and in it Szeps shines as a great master of theatrical entertainment.
Wildie Creative Enterprises present
Wish I'd Said That
Written and performed by Henri Szeps
Venue: QUT Gardens Theatre
Dates: Friday 2 March 7.30pm, Saturday 3 March 2.00pm & 7.30pm
Tickets: $40 – $18