Hollywood Fringe 2019
An older and wiser man tells the story of his youthful folly.
One-person shows can be hit-or-miss, particularly when the performer is telling their own story. James Kirkland appears before us as a sane and affable middle-aged man. The story he tells is about a younger and considerably less sane person, who he used to be. The younger James was lured down rabbit-holes that led to conspiracy theories, quasi-religious cults and a belief that the earth is flat.
Enough time has passed for the narrator to distance himself from the subject of the story. Aided by projections, the show is an illustrated lecture and cautionary tale about how not to spend your time as an under-employed actor in L.A. Well-meaning friends and family are alienated as he goes further into the dark side of the web.
We know from the start that there is a happy ending, the person talking to us is proof of that, so we are happy to join him on the journey.
Kirkland is an engaging and self-effacing raconteur who still has the remains of an intensity that you can well believe took him to some strange places.
The show is directed by Brendan Hunt, whose own long-running solo show “Five Years in Amsterdam” had a similar I-can’t-quite-believe-I-did-that quality of narrative.
There is a little audience participation at the top of the show, to demonstrate that we are all members of cults to some extent, and to set the easy, anecdotal tone. The story unfolds with James the child being let down and learning to distrust what he is told, this snowballs until all assumed common knowledge is doubted and refuted.
Very simply staged, (one chair, one table, one lap-top) the show relies on the well-written script to provide all light and shade. The Broadwater Black Box space seems a little large for the intimate story being told but the preview audience I was part of thoroughly enjoyed the performance and welcomed the lost sheep back to the fold.