Hollywood Fringe 2018
Fringe veteran returns with redemptive one-man show.
After successful bouts as director for the previous Fringe shows “A Soldier’s Play” and “Lamprey: Weekend of Vengeance,” Victor Isaac returns this time as writer and actor in this thoroughly enjoyable solo performance of “The Word,” now playing at 3 Clubs. “The Word” is a winsome and hilarious tale of forgiveness and redemption.
Many solo performers like to boast about the high quantity of characters they get around to portraying in their solo shows, but Isaac gets points for keeping it down to just two quality characters. First up is the boisterous Reverend Johnson, pastor and founder of the First Church of the Holy Homeboy. The Reverend doesn’t act like your average bible-thumping pastor: He curses a lot, he drinks as he preaches, and he’s not too shy about his feelings about big-bootied women. But this isn’t to say his sermons miss the point or go off the rails completely; he just feels more at home delivering his message in his own colloquial way.
Isaac’s other big character is the soft-spoken LeShaun, a local inmate speaking on behalf of himself in front of his parole board. LeShaun is full of giggle-inducing hair-brained excuses for his past behavior, both adulterous and law-breaking, and he’s oblivious to his own failings, but he has a good heart which makes him an endearing character to listen to, even as he ignorantly explains away, in his own very-quotable vernacular, just how on Earth he ended up in prison in the first place.
These two are very different personalities, but one thing they have in common is you can’t help but enjoy anticipating what each of them are going to say next.
In an unlikely turn of events, LeShaun’s been given a letter of recommendation for release by Reverend Johnson, which confuses LeShaun because he thinks the Reverend hates him for his past misconduct. Naturally, upon LeShauns’s release, these two characters get to meet and confront each other. It’s a bit messy when they do, but it all clears up by the end and each character finally gets the closure they need.
Victor Isaac has effortless charisma which charms you immediately, delivering plenty of laughs and even a couple of fun catchphrases. Director JJ Mayes keeps the production moving at an engaging, brisk pace. “The Word” racks up another hit for Mayes who’s no slouch himself, having directed the award-winning “Definition of Man,” and “Cookie & the Monster” .
“The Word” is a must-see solo show for the Hollywood Fringe this year. It will leave you laughing, thinking, and cheering for the Oakland Raiders. -ZACHARY BERNSTEIN