nytheatre.com review by Amy Lee Pearsall
October 22, 2012
If you enjoy solo-performance, be certain to check out 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.
For anyone who has ever read a piece of prose and wished it could come to life right before his or her eyes, Vonnegut! Vonnegut! offers such an experience. Performer Glen Williamson narrates and acts out all the parts in “Who Am I This Time?” and “The Kid Nobody Could Handle,” both of which appear in Welcome to the Monkey House, a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s shorter works.
“The Kid Nobody Could Handle” is a gentle tale about a music teacher in a small school who tries to reach out to an at-risk boy with a bad attitude and a penchant for combat boots. “Who Am I This Time?” is a fun bit about a community theatre production of Streetcar Named Desire, the casting process, and the local performers involved. Each piece runs about 45 minutes, with a brief intermission between the two.
As directed by Scott Fielding, Williamson creates solid narrators and polished, if somewhat stereotypical, supporting characters. Williamson is clearly adept at physical comedy and is an endearing storyteller. As entertaining as these stories are on their own merit, as an audience member, I would have liked to see him pull back in places to allow for more empathy for the secondary characters. That said, the execution of his performance is concise, and it is obvious he has been working on these pieces for some time.
There is a part in “The Kid Nobody Could Handle” where our music teacher and narrator says that his life goal is to make the world more beautiful than it was when we came into it. If that is also Williamson’s goal as a performer, he achieves it – everyone walked out of the theatre that night with smiles on their faces. Vonnegut! Vonnegut! may have wrapped up its short run at the United Solo Theatre Festival this year, but keep your eyes open for Williamson – and should he offer to tell you a story, just say yes.