Pope Head: The Secret Life Of Francis Bacon Review

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  • Monday, 16 March 2015 08:48
Published in Arts  
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Gary Roost in The Secret Life Of Francis Bacon Gary Roost in The Secret Life Of Francis Bacon

From a four square metre stage and using nothing but three pop-up banners to create a sense of time and space, British character actor Garry Roost ('East Enders', 'Black Books') delivers his one-man show, 'Pope Head - The Secret Life of Francis Bacon'.


In this fast paced 60-minute show, the actor delves deep into the psyche and personality of the enigmatic, 20th Century master, who courted controversy with his lifestyle and refusal to abide by society’s norms.

In this challenging solo performance (written and produced by Roost) the actor becomes the brilliant artist, detailing his childhood, his journey into adulthood and his confused sexuality. He looks at his morals (or lack of them), his hedonistic approach to life, (which Bacon declared he found quite ordinary) and the anger burning within him as he fights his childhood memories and the resentment they bring.

Garry Roost1Garry Roost

As the performance gathers pace, Roost grows ever more playful and inventive in the role – challenging and questioning the value of life, art, society’s morals, and the philosophies of the man who turned the art world upside down.

We are quickly drawn into Roost’s well-crafted web as we follow the struggle of the young artist who realises that success and tragedy go hand-in-hand. Plagued by self-doubt but determined to make his mark, Bacon pursued his art with unrelenting passion and Roost conveys the desperation of a man caught between worlds.

Pope HeadHere we witness the power of a talented character actor, with real words that convey real passion; where the complexities of a talented artist are held up for scrutiny. Roost delivers in spades and every line is like a bullet. There is nothing superfluous with the script. It is paired back and concise. And at every opportunity we are reminded of the artist’s brilliant wit, devastating sarcasm and towering intellect.

As Bacon famously said, “champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends”. It doesn’t get more intimate and revealing than this.

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