Last night we went to see Mike's Incredible Indian Adventure at Portland Center Stage. I love a good one-man show. That built-in promise of the personal. Of course, one of the things that can happen with a one-man show is that the actor spends more time showing off his chops than presenting the story. Doing voices and accents and shoving his range in your face. Last one-man show I saw was like that. Entertaining, sure, but all I was seeing was the actor on the stage. Sort of the equivalent of seeing the writer on the page when you're reading a book.
Mike Schlitt delivered his show like a man telling a story. He has plenty of chops and did do some voices and accents, but it all felt like it was done in the context of the man telling his story. Really refreshing. And very entertaining.
Another thing that stuck in my mind about his delivery was that it was supremely American. Which was perfect for this story. Of course, he is American, so that wasn't a stretch or a stroke of brilliance, but there was something about the absolute, (excuse the phrase) in-your-face American-ness of it, which you then got to see back off in the moment of the turning, the moment of change, in the piece.
It's a piece about deep-down-America's inability to respectfully touch another culture. And it's a piece about the obsessive and hungry and totally self-involved soul of the artist. Which, as an artist, I can bear witness to.
That's, of course, Orson Welles over his shoulder. The slide show / film aspect of the show was great. Really well used. I loved when he flipped back and forth between images of Neil Simon and Gandhi in order to show how his younger self had justified traveling to India to put on the very cheesified and Spice Girled production of Simon's musical They're Playing Our Song. And the footage of the tour is hilarious and excruciating and delivered with great timing.
The stage set was really good. Felt very Nancy Keystone (the director) with its colossal stacks of video tapes (reminded me of her production of Apollo which was so amazing). I love stage sets. A very particular art. Creating a world for a story. The wonderful hindrances set designers encounter when trying to create these worlds and the creativity that comes from working around these hindrances. Really cool. The guy who designed this set created a space that seemed to convey the same neurotic hemming in that art and the wish for greatness builds up around Schlitt.
Fun evening, made even better by the big surprise of Christine, all beautiful in sari and bindi, and a single seat open right next to us, just waiting for her.