Oswald Bates

Stephen Poliakoff  is a director who has acclaim, yet who has also been assailed for his obsession with the past. I must be honest; I feel an affinity with Poliakoff that perhaps rules out proper scrutiny.

I was first brought to his work through Sian, my wife, after she recorded his 1999 production ‘Shooting the Past.’ I was captivated by the imagery, music and surreal characterization. The oddball archivist and custodian, Oswald, was metaphorical of my need to find meaning in the past.

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However, in subsequent productions, Poliakoff was to stick rigidly to a world of grand pretension with characters that were no longer surreal but unreal. However, it seems to me, Poliakoff should be charged with inconsistency rather than wholesale rebuke. Indeed, his critics are as badly polarised as his doe-eyed following.

I would urge you to watch Poliakoff’s 2003 production ‘The Lost Prince,’ telling the heart-breaking story of the ‘monster boy’ Prince John. Through the detached eyes of the autistic and epileptic Prince, we see in fact that it is the preposterous world around him that is the Monster. The vantage of the boy Prince, looking out from behind a half-opened door, reminds us of a Jekyll and Hyde world of divide.