So, a biographical play by Terry Johnson about the great cinematographer and ladies' man, Jack Cardiff (Robert Lindsay), now nearing the end of his life, burdened with dementia and drifting in time. His son (Barnaby Kay) wants to get a memoir from him while it's still possible, with Cardiff's wife (Claire Skinner) and carer/collaborator (Rebecca Night) either helping or hindering the process. This is the play. A play about the past with lavish flashbacks and famous actresses emerging from Cardiff's unstable mind. There is little dramatic momentum - nor can there be, given the premise.
It's as interesting as Cardiff himself manages to be and he's played to the hilt by Lindsay. But the sad fact of dementia means that it's all rather one note. Johnson himself must have realized this and gives us an abrupt change in the second act where we go on location in spectacular style and get a very nice (I thought) interpretation of Katherine Hepburn from Skinner, a decent Lauren Bacall from Night and an awful Humphrey Bogart from Kay. This, at least, would have been fun if the scenes were better conceived or, indeed, had a point.
Johnson is a good writer as he has proved often enough but this time he's floundering. If there is a key to Cardiff's life he has not found it. My regretful conclusion is that there was never a play here in the first place.