Monday, November 9, 2020

376. OPIUM. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

Roc Brynner.
OPIUM [Drama/Drugs/French/Solo] A:Roc Brynner; SC: Jean Cocteau’s diary, Opium, Journal of a Cure; D: Ranald Graham; S: Roger Chevely C: Mr. Fish; L: Lloyd Burlingame; P: Preston Fischer and Norman Kean b/a/w Marc Princi, Ltd.; T: Edison Theatre; 10/5/70-10/10/70 (8)

Roc (later, Rock) Brynner, son of famed actor Yul Brynner, wrote and starred in this one-man play based on French playwright/poet/filmmaker Jean Cocteau’s 1927 hospital cure of opium addiction. Brynner had played the work at the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1969. To John J. O’Connor, Brynner was “competent’ and “sometimes less,” but others thought him oddly attractive, like his father, and gifted with a strange charisma despite his lack of professional polish. Reportedly, he was so disillusioned by his experience with this work that, not having a natural affinity for acting, he abandoned the theatre to become a writer and historian.

Clive Barnes appreciated Opium as a “fascinating” trip in Cocteau’s spiritual and physical travail and for its unusual insights into the nature of the drug, but most of the other critics rejected it as being over-romanticized, dull, repetitious, and banal.