Impassioned interpretations of two fascinating characters
In 1990 George Dillon created a one man show in the hope of attracting an agent. That show became an Edinburgh Fringe success – and started a 20-year career as a solo performer.
"Each work is a bit like having a child – it stays with you for a long time. When I start a show I know that I'm going to be doing it for years," he says.
Now the award-winning actor is bringing two of his celebrated productions to Devon this month. The Gospel of Matthew and The Man Who Was Hamlet.
"I first did The Gospel of Mark in 2002 and The Man Who Was Hamlet in 2008. I still do a Dostoyevsky piece which was my first solo show – and that should have left home by now!"
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George enjoys exploring challenging subjects which he fuels with impassioned interpretations. His Jesus is no forgiving long-haired hippy, and his exploration of the scandalous Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, whose life echoes that of Shakespeare's Hamlet, asks: was he the inspiration – or was he the author?
"As an actor I enjoy performing. I'm using everything I have got – mind, body, voice, spirit. Everything that makes you up is being engaged. It is the most thrilling drug there is," says George. "It does take its toll. It is physically and emotionally quite a drain. But there is a liberation in that as well. I'm the centre of attention so it has its own reward."
He doesn't miss sharing the stage with other actors. A one-man show means he can control his career – and also have artistic control. "There is no one else to mess it up. I don't worry about things going wrong – if you go on stage and need saving you shouldn't be there is the first place."
George has four one-man shows currently in his repertoire. That adds up to six hours of dialogue.
"If I had a pound for every time people ask me how I remember it all I'd have a few hundred. The short answer is its what I do. It's my job."
His Jesus is portrayed as a raging fighter for God rather than a meek lamb to the slaughter.
Is he religious? "I don't answer that question. I want people to come with their mind open and experience it afresh, not come to it after reading what I think. I let the story tell itself. I do interpret – but I have tried not to impose anything.
The Gospel of Matthew is at the Devon Hall, Bideford on February 15, and The Man Who Was Hamlet will be performed at The Plough Arts Centre, Torrington the following night.