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My Perfect Mind

From 55 critic and 1 member reviews
Members say: Quirky, Ambitious, Well acted, Clever, Dizzying

About the show

Produced by the Young Vic and part of 59E59's "Brits Off Broadway" Festival, 'My Perfect Mind' follows actor Edward Petherbridge, who, cast as King Lear, suffers a stroke in rehearsal that leaves him barely able to move. More…

As he struggles to recover Edward makes a discovery: the entire role of Lear still exists word for word in his mind. From being on the brink of playing one of Shakespeare's most revered roles, to lying in a hospital bed surrounded by doctors, Edward never imagined what tragedies and comedies lie in store for him. Originally produced in Britain by the Young Vic, this production is part of 59E59's "Brits Off-Broadway" Festival.

Talkin' Broadway

"The pair cavorts through the play that is part autobiography and part zany romp, interspersed with short scenes from 'King Lear.' These scenes are performed with such eloquence that even if you’ve forsworn seeing yet another production of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, you will happily stand in line for tickets should Mr. Petherbridge take on the role in earnest. But for now, there is this joyous marvel of a work. The Inca lament for the dead sun god Atahualpa alone is worth the price of admissi... Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"'My Perfect Mind' is a perfect diamond in the rough, an opportunity to see one of Britain’s greatest living actors in a mesmerizing, funny, whip-smart and thoroughly human performance, a meditation on life and acting – also Lear – directed by another great British actress, Kathryn Hunter." Full Review

Andy B Sports

"'My Perfect Mind' is an extraordinary play co- starring two incredible actors, Edward Petherbridge and Paul Hunter, the latter dazzling at a frenetic pace...There were so many moments of wisdom, references and humor, moving me in a great way, beyond words." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"'My Perfect Mind' is an exceptionally tricky entertainment, an evening of show business comedy that insinuates by degrees its message of endurance and survival, leaving one surprised to be so moved. Its story is of man's encounter with mortality, but every second of it teems with laughter and life." Full Review

The New York Times

"Having a stroke is like going to a carnival in 'My Perfect Mind,' the deceptively jolly account of a traumatic chapter in the life of the actor Edward Petherbridge...There’s cathartic method within the music-hall madness. 'My Perfect Mind' uses the stuff of slapstick to raise and wrestle with a terror that lurks in us all...Mr. Petherbridge does what actors have always done, turning handicaps into weapons to conquer an audience." Full Review


"Petherbridge's extraordinary performance is reason enough to flock to the theater, but the autobiographical nature of the story, together with a ridiculously funny performance by his costar, Paul Hunter, adds a fascinating dimension to this quite literally off-kilter story...With all its twists, turns, and contortions, 'My Perfect Mind' is a delightfully entertaining brainteaser." Full Review


"This is an uplifting, fun production. Petherbridge takes the ball and runs after Hunter tosses it to him. Their seamless and relaxed interchanges remind us that this encomium to the power of the mind reveals grace despite stress; it reveals a new way to comprehend the mind’s shattering delicacy and its redemptive powers. Unlike glass, the mind is capable of regrowing or growing new pathways toward health. At the end of 'My Perfect Mind', Petherbridge has roundly proven it." Full Review


"'My Perfect Mind' is no tragedy but gloriously irreverent and immense fun to watch. It combines a medley of set pieces from 'Lear,' theatrical shoptalk, and nuggets of Petherbridge's own incredible theater journey...This two-hander is a must-see for Shakespeare enthusiasts." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Esteemed actors Edward Petherbridge and Paul Hunter blow the roof off the house with their whirlwind of talent and humor... There were times where I lost track of what was going on, but with their pacing and ease of communication it is clear there is a purpose to each and every component. As a result, my occasional confusion didn't detract from the entertainment value or deeper meanings they convey. " Full Review

What's On Off Broadway

"'My Perfect Mind' is inspired silliness, lightly masking a warm chewy center of love for the theater and a determination to return to it. The show avoids the sentimental revelations that make many autobiographical shows feel like an extended psychoanalyst’s session. Instead it is a celebration, a joy to watch and be part of." Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

"Paul Hunter is a one-man repertory company...An actor’s life, be he a stroke victim or no, is a perilous one and it so very easy to lose one’s footing. But when the actor is Edward Petherbridge it simply does not apply. He is charm and grace personified. Like another great Shakespearean character, age cannot wither him, nor custom stale his infinite variety." Full Review


"Despite its serious subject matter, 'My Perfect Mind' is a lively and spirited show, full of clowning, but still manages to be both moving and thought provoking...By the end, you’ve seen a farce, a commentary on a life spent in the theater, an autobiography of a man who’s lived a fascinating life, and a story of trauma and recovery all rolled into one." Full Review

Time Out New York

"'My Perfect Mind' gets its zing from its insouciant attitude to the lead actor's stroke; it gets its literary scope from frequent flights into Shakespeare's play, the text itself an antidote to frailty. It's that rare thing, a play about the terrors to come that somehow operates on a delightful level. Like Lear's own Fool, it makes us laugh at the storm." Full Review


"Witty, wild, wonderful and thoroughly entertaining, this expertly crafted play is a must-see for audiences...This is a comedy with serious undertones...While there are moments of complete absurdity, 'My Perfect Mind' is also a thoughtful, poignant story that you will remember long after Petheridge and Hunter take their final bows." Full Review

Stage and Cinema

"It’s difficult not to be delighted by this thoroughly self-conscious theatrical fantasia about theater, about acting as living and many threads are introduced throughout the performance that it’s impossible to tie them all up without making the show 'theatrical,' and thereby breaking with the knowing, free flowing, whimsical style of the piece. But 'My Perfect Mind' is such fun, the details of the performances so lovely, that the absence of a perfect conclusion hardly matters." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"The production contains the hallmark of a great British production: a biting sense of humor...Every time the silliness is played up, the way 'King Lear' echoes Petherbridge’s own life is played down, preventing the story from veering into schmaltz...Theatre is a tough business, fraught with competition, but 'My Perfect Mind' shows the interdependencies, the people and the relationships, that make the stage a place we all come together to 'see better.'" Full Review

Liverpool Sound and Vision

for a previous production "If 'My Perfect Mind' was one of the finest plays to come to Liverpool, then it doesn’t just stand on the shoulders of giants, it whispers down its ears and points the way forward. Spellbinding!" Full Review

The Gay UK

for a previous production "Epically humorous and uncompromisingly sincere...Petherbridge’s story shone brightly on stage, as he played himself and the situation so vividly, it appeared we were witnessing the event real-time. His roaring delivery of speeches and then his sweet old-man like voice provided us with an emotional journey of discovery and recovery. We were left wishing we could hear Edward perform 'King Lear' for real." Full Review

Ink Pellet (UK)

for a previous production "If there was ever proof needed that William Shakespeare can speak to audiences today then Kathryn Hunter’s clever, beautiful and inspired 'My Perfect Mind' is it...Offers an insight into the art of an actor: to share that pain you have to feel it. Both actors offer a masterclass in timing: offers just enough time for reflection." Full Review

Whitby Gazette

for a previous production "Petherbridge – who is breath-takingly, effortlessly brilliant – plays himself and Paul Hunter – physically and stylistically the perfect foil, the rough with the smooth – plays everything from his doctor to his mother, his brother to Olivier...The scenes of his frustration at his illness and Lear’s madness combined are heart-breaking. At other times it is tender and poignant as it explores the fragility of life. It is also screamingly funny." Full Review

High Tide Magazine

for a previous production "'My Perfect Mind' manages to be both brilliantly inventive and old-fashioned hilarious at the same time...Are we are seeing a consummate actor playing himself or being himself? Decide for yourself but above all do not miss this extraordinary performance. The final bows had the audience on their feet. Run and grab your ticket." Full Review

Unique Cafe

for a previous production "‘My Perfect Mind’ is a touching yet riotous account of the life of Edward Petherbridge...Pretty harrowing stuff, yet ‘My Perfect Mind’ bypasses the violins and heads elsewhere. Loaded with dry, witty asides, the consistently endearing Petherbridge is accompanied by the hyped-up capers of co-star Paul Hunter, who leaps from dodgy accent to dodgy accent with engaging gusto." Full Review

Matt Trueman

for a previous production "All this, however, is handled with the most enormous sense of folly...For all it’s foolish, it’s hugely tender and for such a multi-faceted, fragmented show, it also moves with immense fluidity – a real credit to Kathryn Hunter’s keen-eyed direction. But it’s the layers of thought and the lightness of touch that makes 'My Perfect Mind' such an exquisite treat of a show." Full Review

Victoria Sadler

for a previous production "Though I found the play really funny and exciting, there were a few who were a little baffled. Perhaps the pace was too fast for them, perhaps the lack of linear structure to the plot too confusing. I liked the obscurity as it demonstrates how the brain can play tricks. The vast majority of us though were in hysterics. 'My Perfect Mind' is an incredibly funny play and its message of the resilience of the human spirit is an important one that is beautifully made." Full Review

Theatre Bubble

for a previous production "'My Perfect Mind' wonderfully exemplifies the nature of one’s own reality and truth, depends on individual perceptions of and reactions to external events and therefore determines which character one decides to be- the self, the king, the fool or all three. Edward Petherbridge gets his magic in the end and is King Lear but it’s a magic fashioned and derived from the detritus of a tragic event that could have turned out differently if other perceptions and choices were made." Full Review

Ambitious, Well acted, Dizzying, Quirky, Clever

See it if you enjoy British clowning; some gags are very broad. I preferred Shakepearean parts. Lots of confusing switches. Inspiring story of rehab.

Don't see it if you want a coherent plotline. MPM had come highly recommended, but I found it disappointing. Enjoyable, but not enlightening.

Also I'm catching up on old reviews. The critics loved this work. Maybe I w... Read more Read less

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