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Michael Shannon and Daniel Kitson: Simply Awesome

Filed under: On the Spot   Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Martin Schneider writes:

Look to this space every Wednesday for my thoughts on politics and/or events. Early 2011 is a relatively unengaging time for a diehard Democrat, what with the White House occupied by one of our own and recent Republican victories, but that will change in the near future. So I'll be writing more about events for the time being, I suspect.

By events I mainly mean plays, author events, rock concerts, and standup comedy gigs.

January has been busy. I saw an absolutely spectacular production of Craig Wright's play Mistakes Were Made at the Barrow Street Theater. The flabbergastingly good Michael Shannon, familiar from Revolutionary Road and Boardwalk Empire and a longtime favorite of mine, gives one of the greatest stage performances I've ever seen. He plays a theater producer trying to pull together a big Broadway production about the French Revolution entirely on the phone, as he berates, flatters, etc. a couple of big-name actors, the playwright, an agent or two, and a few others into getting what he wants. He laughs, he cries, he breaks down. It's not the freshest premise for a play, but the writing is rich and pungent, as is Shannon's utterly impressive performance (nearly solo, and mostly into a phone). It's playing for one more month, so I urge you to see it if you can. (The night I was there, Ethan Coen was seated in front of me. He seemed to enjoy it.)

I'm also a huge Daniel Kitson fan, and I was very happy to see him twice last week, once at the UCB Theater's outstanding standup showcase Whiplash (every Monday night at 11pm, free), and once in his one-man show The Interminable Suicide Of Gregory Church at St. Ann's Warehouse. I see a great deal of standup comedy, but Kitson remains entirely sui generis. He's a scruffy chap from Yorkshire with perhaps the widest onstage vocabulary I've ever witnessed, he has an occasional stutter, and it all adds up to a tremendously charming package. Gregory Church is a delightful flight of fancy in which Kitson (or "Kitson") stumbles upon 30,000 letters by a man he doesn't know, and pieces together what he can about the man's life. As terrific as that was (it's closing very soon), I prefer Kitson in the tiny black box of the UCBT, in which he is likelier to extemporize, letting his dazzling wit flow even more. (John Leguizamo was in attendance that night, but he didn't sit near me. Don't know what he thought of it.)

I received a modest amount of renown in December for my writeups of a certain event at 92nd Street Y, and I'll be back again for two events very soon. More on that as they happen.


I was fortunate to receive an invite to the Sept. 2009 opening of this show at A Red Orchid Theater in Chicago (Mr. Shannon’s home theater company), but I was out of town.

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2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree