Dickey’s layered plot moves through time and mind, starting in a museum contemplating Rembrandt’s “Aristotle With a Bust of Homer,” then getting into the Dutch artist, thence into the Greek poet. Lots and lots of dialogue, deftly delivered by five actors, each playing two roles that mirror each other.
Andrew May portrays the title character, Henry, by vocation as well as occupation a museum guard, as sensitive and well spoken. It’s quite fun to watch May morph into the lusty, flamboyant Rembrandt. Henry tends to hide his passion, which Rembrandt wears on his sleeve. The artist is not shy with his castigations of the vulgar, while the more guarded Henry is polite.
The best scenery-chewing, though, comes late in The Guard from Raphael Nash Thompson as two poets: Homer, arguably the world’s first; and Simon, Henry’s dying husband. The former strides the stage bigger than life, the latter huddles almost motionless in bed, but both have a lot of great laugh lines and serious insights.
Directed by City artistic director Tracy Brigden with her usual panache and a talented design/tech team, The Guard is a banquet for the eye as well as the mind. And if you care, the painting is really in Gallery 637.