<em>Funnyman</em>&nbsp;at Circle Theatre

Review: Funnyman | Circle Theatre

To Tell the Truth

At Circle Theatre, Bruce Graham's Funnyman makes the comedy look easy, thanks to Randy Pearlman's performance.

published Sunday, October 30, 2016

Photo: Tim Long
Funnyman at Circle Theatre


Fort Worth — There’s an old saying in show business: “Dying is easy. Comedy, that’s hard.” Circle Theatre’s regional premiere of Bruce Graham’s Funnyman is proof positive. Director Krista Scott builds the pressure right up to performer Randy Pearlman’s final monologue that explains the pains behind his title character’s comic genius.

Photo: Tim Long

Pearlman’s Chick Sherman is reminiscent of a taciturn Jackie Gleason. But the old trope of the dichotomy between the onstage/offstage personas doesn’t seem to cover the depths of his pathos. Half of the plot is fueled by his adult daughter’s attempt to bridge the gap between the two by uncovering their murky past. Melissa Rosenberg plays Katherine Sherman with a matter-of-fact drive. Her co-worker, Nathan Wise (Jacob Grant) provides welcome relief of both the comic and romantic kind with Grant’s charisma liberally inserting needed chemistry and ease.

While Katherine has Nathan to temper her obsession, Chick’s aid-de-comedy is his long-suffering manager Milt “Junior” Karp. Robert Michael James plays the archetypal right hand man who can arrange the contracts and deliver a sandwich to first day’s rehearsal. He keeps Junior’s nobility in tact, weathering Chick’s tantrums, demands and doubts. It’s as lovely a relationship as the young lovers’.

Chick’s career seems to have stalled at indigestion commercials when he’s offered a role written by an avant-garde playwright (Jakie Cabe) with an equally avant-garde director (Eric Dobbins). The scenario is inspired by Beckett’s Waiting for Godot with cowardly lion, Bert Lahr, as one of the tragic comic tramps. Dobbins keeps the difficult beret-wearing director well within reality. Cabe, alternately, lifts the show to a new level with his fluid but not necessarily flamboyant Tennessee Williams take-off, Victor La Plant. He’s a welcome Southern breeze.

Clare Floyd DeVries handles the shows need for showing Chick’s black-and-white commercials by keeping her set monochromatic and projecting them on one of the squares set into a Mondrian-inspired upstage screen. There’s a subtle statement in reducing that artist’s vibrant palate to grey. It’s as if Chick’s joyless existence dampens everything it touches. Costume designer Sarah Tonemah accordingly keeps the clothing colors unsaturated while lighting designer John Leach moves us from location to location unobtrusively.

The main reason to the see the show comes at the very end. Pearlman’s Chick finally explains to his daughter the circumstances of their estrangement. It’s as powerful a monologue as you’ll see this year, sincerely delivered and yet masterfully shaped. He does the one thing harder than comedy.

That’s truth. Thanks For Reading

View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
To Tell the Truth
At Circle Theatre, Bruce Graham's Funnyman makes the comedy look easy, thanks to Randy Pearlman's performance.
by David Novinski

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :