If you enjoy solo-performance, get thee to the third annual United Solo Theatre Festival. Running at Theatre Row on 42nd Street through November 18th, this year’s United Solo features 100 short theatrical productions from around the world, the majority of which will only run once. Take a chance, pick a day, and take in some of the rich and varied offerings this delightful festival has to offer.
Naked Brazilian, written and performed by the fully-clothed Rio de Janeiro native Gustavo Pace, follows Pace's journey from a young class clown in Brazil enthralled with the Marx Brothers to a professional clown-in-training in New York City. Pace outlines his struggles with familial expectations – as well as self and sexual identity – in this 60-minute coming-of-age tale.
In a teal t-shirt, red suspenders, black slacks slightly too large for him, a white hat, and a delightful stage presence, Pace navigates the landscape from a beach in Brazil to a dicey apartment in Harlem. He lets the comedy rip when recreating his first date with a boy and several disastrous run-ins with his Brazilian therapist. He even manages to crack himself up at times.
As charming a performer as Pace is, the piece is not without its problems. At one point, he is swimming and addressing various forms of ocean life for no reason I could discern. Pace occasionally employs other characters briefly to move the story along, but as directed by Rachel Eckerling, there is little differentiation between them. A mention of Pace spending some time couch surfing and camping out at Occupy Wall Street does not get fleshed out. I could not help but think the inclusion of some of these anecdotes might help to broaden Pace's New York experience for the audience.
The nakedness in this piece comes purely from Pace's willingness to be open and emotionally honest with his audience, and that he is. With some further workshopping and development, I'm certain Naked Brazilian will be ready for its close up.