Tuesday, October 15, 2013

THE PLAYER KING ...in Hollywood

This is a one man show but actually, under the spell of playwright-performer Darin Dahms, there are three distinct men on stage, all fully realized and all fascinating. The action takes us back to the mid-19th century, where we meet the three significant members of the historic Booth family.

Junius Brutus Booth
There is Junius Brutus Booth, the patriarch, a man possessed by demons, with an equal passion for the soliloquies of Shakespeare and the numbing magic of liquor. As the events we are all too aware of unfold, his parental mantra “an actor must act!” takes on a deeper significance, as does his fatherly advice to his actor sons, “always wear your spurs.”

Edwin Booth
 The sane member of this trio, Edwin Booth, is a gentle man forced into acting, and struggling for years, until he is hailed as the greatest American actor of his century. The sacrifices he has to make for this itinerant career are poignantly revealed by the loss of his young wife while he strides a distant public stage.

John Wilkes Booth
Then there is the younger brother, hothead playboy, John Wilkes, boasting he will be the most famous actor of all time, and succeeding with the act that changed history: the assassination of Lincoln. We accompany John Wilkes step by step through the Ford Theatre to the president’s private box. Taking his father’s advice literally, he wears his spurs, which become his undoing when, leaping to the stage, they catch on the flag and he breaks his ankle. Dahms knows the psychology of actors and his revelation on John Wilkes’ motivation, petty grievance turned into megalomania, rang true in this setting even though historians prefer a conspiracy claim.

Dahms’ boldly weaves in Shakespeare’s words, and most famous soliloquies, to illustrate the dramatic action and spiritual changes throughout. Brilliantly written and performed, this is a must-see for lovers of Shakespeare and students of history.

At the MET Theatre, downstairs, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hollywood (at Western Ave. & Santa Monica Blvd.), through Nov. 2. Fri. & Sat. at 8 p.m.
RESERVATIONS: (800) 838-3006. or: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/464197

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