In the 80s, Leonard
Nimoy wrote a historical
play for one actor called Vincent, about
artist Vincent Van Gogh.
Eschewing the usual formula, the character being played is
Theo, addressing an audience at a memorial service after his
death. This device
rather transparently lets the actor both narrate the trajectory
life in ordered chronology, but also to break into "imitations"
his brother; a kind of two in one deal.
And if the actor has some real,
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
interesting enough, to keep the proceedings from
being dull. Which given the rest, is no small thing.
because other than that, he never transcends the level of
theatre enthuasiast: he sighs with exasperation, he shakes his
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
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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