This Greenville Journal article by Paul Hyde was originally published on April 19th, 2023. Photo: Will Crooks
“Harry Clarke” is a stage play with 18 characters but only one actor.
The comedy-drama by British-American playwright David Cale follows a shy Midwestern man, Philip, who feels more himself when adopting the persona of cocky Londoner Harry Clarke.
Moving to New York and presenting himself as an Englishman, he charms his way into a wealthy family’s life, romancing two family members as the seductive Harry, with more on his mind than love.
Upstate actor Thomas Azar takes on the challenge of Philip/Harry and all the other characters in The Warehouse Theatre production of “Harry Clarke,” running April 28-May 13.
Azar is a familiar figure at The Warehouse Theatre, having appeared in “Pride and Prejudice,” “Appropriate” and “Angels in America” among other plays.
But “Harry Clarke” is, by far, his most demanding assignment yet.
“What sets this apart is that it’s just me on stage,” Azar said. “It’s a challenge, but I have such a good time confronting that challenge.”
Azar plays both men and women, with an array of accents and ages ranging from 8 to 67. The play calls on Azar to switch characters at a lightning-fast pace.
“It’s quite the vocal workout,” Azar said.
Thomas Azar’s Persona
Philip, the Midwesterner in the play, is a devotee of film noir. By adopting the persona of Harry Clarke, Philip creates his own film noir character and story, full of intrigue, dark humor and unexpected plot twists.
Philip invents a backstory for himself as the “tour manager/personal assistant/whatever-else-was-needed person” for the singer Sade.
In the entire course of the rapid-fire 80-minute play, performed without intermission, the stage is bare except for a chair and Azar.
It’s the sort of drama that showcases “the magic and uniqueness of live theater,” Azar said.