Leonard Nimoy's

by Leonard Nimoy
Directed by Dr. Brant Pope
Starring James Briggs
Theatre at St. Clements
Official Website

Reviewed by David Spencer

In the 80s, Leonard Nimoy wrote a historical play for one actor called Vincent, about emotionally troubled artist Vincent Van Gogh. Eschewing the usual formula, the character being played is Vincent's brother Theo, addressing an audience at a memorial service after his death. This device rather transparently lets the actor both narrate the trajectory of Vincent's life in ordered chronology, but also to break into "imitations" of his brother; a kind of two in one deal.

And if the actor has some real, human juice, as Nimoy had (you can see his performance in clips, and in its entirety for a buck-ninety-nine, on YouTube), it makes for a credible enough evening, if not one of the one-actor shows destined for legend.

But if you have a performer like James Briggs…well, it's to his credit that he’s committed enough to the script, which is informative and interesting enough, to keep the proceedings from being dull. Which given the rest, is no small thing.

But oh that “rest”; because other than that, he never transcends the level of intelligent community theatre enthuasiast: he sighs with exasperation, he shakes his head editorially at his brother's excesses, he has a small repertory of indicative gestures that he uses variously and predictably, and he has a lightweight voice that he modulates pretty much by the numbers, according to appropriate mood.

But there's never a moment where you're not aware of a well-intentioned fellow with much aspiration and not much career breeding, workin' it. That the direction by Dr. Brant Pope seems unable to have guided Briggs more toward a natural delivery and more away from indication and affectation—and was perhaps unable to have clocked the difference—stands as testament to why it’s rarely a good idea to attach your doctorate to your playbill credit line. Not even Jonathan Miller does that.

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