for Ensemble Theatre, 1990

The Double Bass

Patrick Süskind.

Directed by Sandra Bates

Click here for snippets of reviews.

The Play

The Double Bass was the first of four one-person plays that the Ensemble Theatre presented featuring Henri Szeps. The text was a co-translation by Henri and Timothy Daly of Patrick Süskind’s original German. It deals with a nondescript double bass player who works in the orchestra pit of the opera. He is preparing to go to work, the opening night of Rheingold, as he talks to the audience. What we see are the frustrations of “the little man”, the labourer, as he sees himself, the nobody of the orchestra. The play is a delightful allegory of the downtrodden crying out to be heard, set in the elegant world of classical music.

Directed by Sandra Bates it played at the Ensemble Theatre, Sydney, for two seasons; at the Fairfax Studio, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne; the Playhouse, Perth; and numerous regional centres in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia between 1990 and 1992.

Quotes from reviews:

Festival of Perth Program, 1991

Carol Payne, North Shore Times, Sydney 18/7/90
... The Double Bass is a tour de force for one of our most popular actors.

Paul LePetit, Sunday Telegraph, Sydney 8/7/90
As his personal plight emerges, as he touches on the real truth of his situation, he becomes more than a figure of fun. His cri de coeur is every neglected person’s plea for acknowledgment. .... When he does turn the passion on he takes us by surprise. His is a formidable performance made twice as entertaining for its power. ...

Dita Jevons, 100 fm, East Fremantle,
WA 28/2/91
.... Henri ... gives the performance of a life time as the frustrated player. With impeccable timing and a fabulous sense of humour he holds the stage for almost two hours ... Henri Szeps and ‘The Double Bass’ are a theatrical event. Don’t miss it.

Wal Eastman, The Mercury, Hobart
'Why can't I make you sound beautiful?'
Henri Szeps does not so much play the part of the bass player as unravel the man’s soul, taking the audience into his confidence from the moment he comes on the stage.

Angela Bennie, SMH
.... Henri Szeps is a performer of great skill, unbounding humour and striking intelligence. ...

Bob Crimeen, Sunday Herald-Sun, Melbourne 7/4/91
Süskind has woven some exquisite observations of the human character into his play-text. But the greatest joy of all is Szeps, who unrelentingly eyeballs his audience as he brings the bass player to life .... in a performance so personal that it’s almost as if he was in our own homes.

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