By Elaine Liner
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Oh, and there's no Toto. He was fired in a dress rehearsal for taking a nip out of Dorothy. Everybody's a critic.
Every year there's at least one play at the Festival of Independent Theatres, currently underway at the Bath House Cultural Center, that really packs the house. Could be the script or a hot new actor or actress or just something original about a production that gets theatergoers buzzing. On opening weekend of the monthlong fest, the buzzworthiest offering was Second Thought Theatre's premiere of the one-man show Bob Birdnow's Remarkable Tale of Human Survival and the Transcendence of Self by Dallas writer Eric Steele.
Veteran Dallas actor Barry Nash plays the title character, a corporate motivational speaker in Iowa. With the houselights still up, he takes the stage and starts his speech, which opens with some corny joking around and a little biographical background of how he became a pilot flying cancer patients to chemo treatments in his two-engine prop plane.
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The story Bob eventually gets around to concerns how he lost a limb in a tragic event that forced him to find his "best self." This is not an Oprah-like revelation. It's a fascinating tale of survival and triumph that will reorder your personal priority list of petty complaints.
Nash gives a tour de force performance of this taut, well-paced script (directed by Lee Trull). Steele, who's also an actor, filmmaker and co-owner of Oak Cliff's Texas Theatre, has written a monologue as gripping as anything by the late, great Spalding Gray. One actor, no scenery, no lighting, no sound effects. Just words and performance coming together perfectly.
And if there is any actor in Dallas who could hold an audience spellbound for an hour with one arm tied behind his back, it's Barry Nash. With Bob Birdnow, he proves it.
Well, that's disappointing. We have balcony seats to The Wiz. Maybe from up there, it will be more magical.
There's nothing worse than reading a review from a critic who has no idea what the hell she's talking about. Dollars to donuts says she's never even seen the movie. The disdain Elaine feels for having to sit through a performance made for blacks and about blacks by (mostly) blacks is evident. She obviously feels like such non-"American" things are beneath her. What a jive turkey.