STAGE REVIEW: Prism at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Monday, November 25 to Saturday, November 30, 2019.

THE garage is packed with movie memorabilia but unfortunately this ‘make believe’ studio and the world it attempts to recreate and represent means very little to a distinguished film director with dementia.

They belong to Jack Cardiff OBE, BSC, who had been a British cinematographer, director and photographer whose career had spanned the evolution of cinema, from silent film, through early experiments in technicolor to film-making more than half-a-century later. He was in his 90s when he died a decade ago.

He worked with many of the big Hollywood names of the past and his world is very much in the past as his mind continually switches from today to previous encounters with Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe and others.

Robert Lindsay, easily and compellingly leads us through this heart-warming play, which Terry Johnson has both written and directs with compassion.

He is Cardiff, the man who insists the most important thing in his life is ‘light’ and with Johnson’s outstanding script he captures the anger, frustration and emotion of what dementia does to mind and body.

He is supposed to be writing his memoirs but continually ignores and rails against the urgings of his son to make it happen. There’s erratic behaviour, a jumble in the jungle and amusing anecdotes, all of which lead to a satisfying surprise with a sad conclusion.

Lindsay, who earned rave reviews in the West End, is now doing the same on the road with this welcome UK tour and that’s due very much to the way he sparkles - much like the prism he fondly cradles in his hands.

Strongly backed by the others in the four-strong cast - Tara Fitzgerald as his wife Nicola, who is largely forgotten and ignored, Oliver Hembrough as his ‘living in the shadow’ son Mason and Victoria Blunt’s splendidly dim-witted but heart of gold carer/helper, Lucy, they make a first rate team.

One particularly excellent memory scene of past glories has all four on the Congo in the 1951 film, The African Queen, with Fitzgerald’s portrayal of the husky Hepburn electrifying.

Quite a clever twist as it gives us Cardiff’s perspective from inside his cloudy mind.

An excellent set featuring iconic stars of the movie world’s heyday - leading ladies he may have slept with - mix with paintings of older provenance, such as Rembrandt and Renoir, all copied by Cardiff and which inspired his love for light.

This brief glimpse into the fading memories of a man known as ‘the man who made women beautiful’ is both thought-provoking and utterly endearing, and its all the better thanks to a cast overflowing with considerable skills and talent.

Creative he was, confused he became, but here Lindsay ensures Cardiff’s legacy lives on with this charismatic portrayal which clearly won over the audience.