AN AMZAING PRODUCTION OF “EDWARD GANT’S AMAZING FEATS OF LONLINESS”
An Amazing Production of “Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness”
Shotgun Players are presenting an amazing production of “Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness” by British playwright Anthony Neilson. This is an imaginative production full of fantastical things done by four superb actors playing a traveling troupe of 1880 Edwardian circus type’s actors recreating ludicrous stories of despair out of the back of a vehicle. As one of the actors says “We throw in a little comic relief to keep the tales from being too sad”. You could say this is old time vaudeville with songs sung by the actors and even a crazy poetry reading. When you enter the Ashby Stage you are entering the bizarre and wonderful world of Edward Gant (Brian Herndon) who calls himself a “prodigy, soldier, traveler, poet but always a showman”. He sets up these slightly grotesque stories about loneliness.
The first story is about Sanzonetta’s (Sarah Moser) horribly pimpled face where the pimples transform into pearls when popped. However she is destined to lose her love while making a fortune. The second story is about an explorer (Ryan Drummond) who travels the globe in a search to dull the pain of his witnessing his love untimely death. He goes to a guru in Nepal (Patrick Kelly Jones) where he hopes to get that memory erase from his memory. Finally Patrick Kelly Jones tries out his silly poetry when semblance of order disappears with the arrival of two teddy bears played by Sarah Moser and Ryan Drummond. The players begin to argue and revolt allowing the playwright to expose what was a psychosomatic freak show.
Beth Wilmurt have assembled four exceptional actors to do some of the best ham acting I have seen in a long time. The acting style is ludicrous and over-the-top. Brian Herndon plays the titular head of the group as a circus ringmaster with an appropriately straight-face. He has that wonderful circus ring master voice that is a joy to hear.
Ryan Drummond gives a deliriously funny portrayal of a clownish Army officer who briefly loves the pimple face lady because he has a pearl fetish. He leaves her for an actual oyster which is a riotous scene. The versatile actor morphs beautifully into the ardently shattered explorer who scales the Himalayas to get his absent lover’s face erased from his memory.
Patrick Kelly Jones gives a side splitting performance in drag as the older sister of Sanzonetta who controls the younger sibling for the pearls that drop from her face. He is wonderful as the guru in the second scene and his take on his poetry is absolutely uproarious.
Sarah Moser rounds out the cast wonderfully playing the lady cursed with pimples becoming pearls that pop from her face. She also is hilarious playing one of the big teddy bears.
Set designer Nina Ball has turned the Ashby stage into the fascia and stage for one of those Victorian freak shows. The play unfolds from a truck bed with a small stage protruding. An occasional landscape for location occurs in some of the scenes.
Costume Designer Christina Crook has designed some bizarre outfits for the players. The outfit that Ryan wears as an Army officer in the first scene is straight out of a comic operetta. Beth Wilmurt direction is sharp and she brings out the comic best of the four actors.
Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness runs through January 19th at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Berkeley. For tickets call 510-841-6500 or on line at www.shotgunplayers.org