Addison — Four stories from four drastically different men somehow coalesce to form the body homosexual manhood in Brandon Simmons’ performance of Will Scheffer’s Falling Man, directed by Ted Wold.
The solo performance consists of four monologues, all gay men speaking on or about their experiences. The first is a former drag queen turned Prozac-taking square. The second is a young New Jersey hustler overtaken by the spirit of Tennessee Williams. The third is Jeffrey Dahmer. And the fourth is a former cha-cha dancing champion.
The overall subject matter of the piece is difficult to quantify because there is no unifying arc, and in fact, the pieces tend to differ greatly going from the completely absurd to the simple and heartfelt.
The Williams and Dahmer pieces are off in a world of their own. Bordering on absurdist, they’re pretty out there, though definitely entertaining. The drag queen and dancer piece have loads more heart and connect more with the audience. Placing these pairs together is, admittedly, kind of odd.
Simmons’ performance is good enough. During the Williams bit his accents sometimes run together, but there are several to juggle. During the Dahmer bit, which is couched as an exceedingly creepy cooking show-type setup, the words are creepy, but he isn’t. He does much better in the drag queen and dancer monologues. Simmons just doesn’t have the hard edge needed to do the zany, out-there stuff. Not yet, at least. He’s young, and clearly talented.
On the technical side of things, scene changes were long and clunky. Granted, Simmons had to execute costume changes and move a couple of things around on stage, but these transitions weren’t efficiently planned out.
Ultimately, he walks up to the line, but rarely pushes himself into an emotional place that feels authentic. There’s an inhibition there. A hesitation. He does fine during the quieter moments, but with the moments that call for more zeal, he never quite gets there.
This is quite a project to take on. And overall, he performs admirably—catching these stories falling through the sky and sharing them with others.
» Falling Man repeats at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 14 and 2 p.m. Saturday, March 15 in the Stone Cottage at the Addison Theatre Centre
» WaterTower Theatre's 2014 Out of the Loop Fringe Festival is 10 days of live theater, dance, music and visual art. To see the full schedule, go here.