Emmy- and Tony-Award-winning actor Billy Crudup has returned to the Bay Area, starring in the one-man play Harry Clarke, which first made a splash off-Broadway in 2017.
The play, which centers on a con artist who sometimes goes by the name Harry Clarke and sometimes has a cockney accent, won accolades for Crudup the first two times he did it in New York, including an Obie Award in 2018. And it opens Monday at Berkeley Repertory Theater, starring Crudup once again, in the same Vineyard Theater production that New York audiences, with direction by Leigh Silverman.
Written by playwright David Cale, the play centers on a main character whose real name is Philip, "an awkward Midwestern man leading an outrageous double life as the cocky Londoner Harry Clarke." Harry manages to charms his way into a wealthy family into New York City, and the story unfolds from there.
Crudup made his Berkeley Rep debut in 2013, in No Man's Land, a one-act Pinter play, starring opposite Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan — and the trio would go on to perform the play alongside Beckett's Waiting for Godot on Broadway the following year.
Crudup won a Tony Award in 2007 for Best Featured Actor in Tom Stoppard's Coast of Utopia — 12 years after making his Broadway debut in Stoppard's Arcadia.
Film and TV audiences know him best for Almost Famous and The Morning Show, the latter of which won him an Emmy Award in 2020.
Crudup calls Harry Clarke "a one-of-a-kind “high-wire act" for an actor, and as "film noir theater." In an interview with the Chronicle this week, Crudup says of the role, "I don’t suspect I’ll ever get a chance to do anything like it again, and I feel useful doing it. It’s not very often as a performer that you feel useful. For most actors, maybe with the exception of people like Meryl Streep, the awards and the applause go to the part. Somebody has to find a way to not screw up the part."
Berkeley Rep Artistic Director Joanna Pfaelzer says of Harry Clarke that it is "a great reminder that something thrillingly theatrical need not be dependent on pyrotechnics, but can be built solely out of meticulously constructed words, stagecraft, and performance."
Harry Clarke is in previews starting tonight, and opens Monday. SFist will have a review Tuesday. But tickets are selling fast for this brief run, which ends on December 23, so find tickets now if interested.
Top image: Actor Billy Crudup attends The Los Angeles Dodgers Game at Dodger Stadium on June 02, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jerritt Clark/GC Images)