In an unlikely melding of three disparate stories, Jack Fairey finds common ground in his moving play The Sun, The Mountain, and Me for Bedivere Arts at the Jack Studio Theatre, in which he also plays the solo character.
Intricately interwoven and sensitively related stories
The setting is unmistakably that of an artist’s studio, but also where Arthur lives, the cluttered circumference of the room littered with all the paraphernalia and more that such a creative possesses, yet a set designed by Joe Malyan in such a way that Fairey at one stage can literally spread his wings. There are works in progress and a couple of significant portraits of two people in his life that occupy four easels. These make the troubled relationship with his brother and the issues he has with his girlfriend ever-present and haunting. It’s modern-day Egham, which sounds very much at odds when placed beside Ancient Greece and Kenya where the other two stories are set, but it serves to root them all in one man’s troubled existence.
Arthur is a young man whose declining mental health constantly hinders him from finishing the work he has to do. His mind wanders from the job in hand to the practicalities of moving into a flat with his girlfriend, packing the boxes, deciding what to take and what can be thrown; beset by the insecurities of change and a hesitant move to a new lifestyle. In between the times he picks up his brush he relates the two stories that say something about his own life. From the confines of his flat we are taken to the tower in which Icarus and his father, Daedalus are imprisoned. Here, hope, of sorts, is found as Daedalus constructs the wings that will will enable them to fly to freedom. But they come with a caveat. Fly too close to the sun and the heat will melt them. Icarus overwhelmed by his freedom loses control, ignores the warning and plunges to his death on the sea.
Meanwhile in Kenya, Felice Benuzzi is dying of boredom, but can see the souring peaks of Mount Kenya. He vows to climb the mountain with fellow prisoner of war Dr. Giovanni (Giuàn) Balletto. They escape the camp and after several setbacks they accept reaching a lower peak rather than the highest as the culmination of their ambition. Then they decided to return to the camp and give themselves up along with their freedom, though they were repatriated after the war ended.
The Sun, The Mountain, and Me has a sound accompaniment by George Jennings that adds further depth to this cleverly constructed work. On hearing the intricately interwoven and sensitively related stories told by Fairey it becomes increasingly clear how the delicate mind of the artist can identify with them, find hope and inspiration tinged with hardship and reality and in so doing add his own search for mental release and freedom to them.