Really great one-person shows are difficult to pull off. They’ve never been my favorite, as an audience member, probably because of the high percentage failure rate (at least in my book). But I continue to go see them. Possibly because my admiration for the courage it takes to do it is quite high, driving my support. Let’s all just agree, it’s hard.
Finding Nick, currently playing at the Zephyr Theatre in Hollywood, is a gutsier show than most; because it’s autobiographical… it’s also a world premiere. I’m not sure how Nicholas Guest (creator and actor) is sleeping at night with all the pressure he must be feeling. Ok, I’ll correct myself…there are a few others (musicians, etc.) who contribute/grace the stage, but really, it’s Nick Guest on his own, sharing his life between 1967 and 1969.
He was the son of an English diplomat and a Jewish mother living in New York just starting to think about college when his father was assigned to Geneva for work. It’s his adventures in Europe while trying to figure out the person he is/is going to be, that he shares with the audience. Nicholas Guest portrays the influential figures in his life, complete with (amazing!) accents and in several different languages, as well as himself and his own thoughts. He picks up his guitar and plays on many occasions (along with Tony Carafone on guitar and Hillary Smith on Cello) and sings. He sings too. Brave and talented man.
The show in general is tight (under the direction of Lee Sankowich) and short…just 50 minutes. There are actual images from his life projected on the wall. This man let’s you in to what fully feels like a defining and important time in his life.
Here’s the problem. I just didn’t care—and I wanted to. I wanted to out of respect and admiration for what he was doing. But I couldn’t muster it up. I have a test… and if you have read my reviews in the past, you can recite it with me. I always want to know if a piece of theatre passes the, “SO WHAT?” test. This piece simply doesn’t. Maybe it’s because I’m of a different generation. Maybe his experience is too far removed from my own. But I didn’t leave the theatre changed, or better informed about another experience. And that is a problem.
If you are contemplating mounting your own one-person show, GO. If you want to be in the presence of versatile talent, Go! But this, unfortunately, isn’t a successful piece of theatre and to go with the hopes to be enlightened or entertained will likely lead to disappointment.
7456 Melrose Ave. (between La Brea & Fairfax)
Los Angeles, California 90046
Thursdays and Fridays 8:00 pm
Now through March 27
Tickets: $25 (there should be some on discount sites)