AN EVENING WITH JOHN WILKES BOOTH

solo performance · loyd j. schwartz · Ages 12+ · family friendly · world premiere · one person show · 80 mins · United States of America

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Review by DAVID MACDOWELL BLUE
June 19, 2017

What I liked

Well, the research was impeccable. The lead actor has genuine charm and talent and technically did a fine job with Booth’s voice and its damage, while the mapping out of the man’s life proved clear as well as insightful.

What I didn't like

Honestly, I felt as if the play were an examination of a nasty, petty human being who never became very interesting. To be fair, for it to be anything else is a MAJOR challenge. Booth was a nasty, petty human being full of vanity and misplaced rage. Maybe the talented gentleman in the lead should have made his impressions/impersonations of others more extreme, more ridiculous and vile, so at least we’d see a vividly interesting imagination. Maybe. At heart, I was not fascinated, not really enlightened, and never felt for the character which is the center, heart and purpose of the show. For me, that is the conundrum that needs solving (and it is a hard one, very hard).

My overall impression

At heart, the thing I most desired to see—a sense of genuine empathy with the title character—never materialized. Which is perhaps totally personal to be fair. Nor did he come across as particularly interesting despite quiet, firm competence (coming from me, that is NOT a put down) on the part of everyone as far as I could see. Methinks the subject matter offered too much of a challenge for what I looked for.

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