Herald-Times Theater Review
Cardinal Stage Company production full of heart, mystery and whimsy
May 5, 2013
More than the tale of a compulsive librarian trying to track down a miscreant borrower/stealer of a book (Mr. A.), Price brings to life the myth of the Wandering Jew (not the houseplant Zebrina pendula but a cobbler from Jesus’s time who mocked him on his way to Calvary). Jesus’s response, “Go on forever until I return.” This myth appeared in the Middle Ages and described a man never afforded the rest of death; indeed, not even that of a tram seat, always forced to keep moving, moving. Eternal life is not what it’s cracked up to be. If endless motion rips footpads in dogs, what would it do to an 1800-year-old man’s back?
One particularly strong scene shows Price praising the lowly library date stamp (worn proudly like a medal around his neck).) It contains all the days that ever existed or will exist, including monumental dates from history such as when the volcano Krakatoa blew in Indonesia or when a woman was struck by frozen urine falling out of plane. Price peers at the audience and tells them that all your birth dates are here and death dates too, although we don’t know them yet.
Price’s big escape from his rule-bound past occurs when he becomes a kind of graffiti artist, writing on black walls. Give a man a stick of chalk and he can conquer the world.
In any one-man, show keeping the rhythm, tone variations, and particularly the energy is hard. Price’s energy never wavers and his voice timbre and pace are varied and always true to the words. However, maintaining the Dutch accent becomes an iffy endeavor, and when it returns periodically, it causes a faint start of surprise.
One interesting directorial touch includes a scene where Price plays two English characters almost simultaneously — one high society, one low, having a conversation about the origin of the word “earth stopper” (hint: foxhunt and den). By jumping onto and off a rolling cart, Price leaps into the aristocracy, then jumps down, curling his body into a burdened man’s C-shape.
Lighting design by Michael Jackson brings a Middle Eastern golden ambience beneath the cobbler’s lintel, and later, braided ceiling lights transport you to a brassy New York, New York.
The script reveals how a little knowledge can be enticing and how even more can become positively seductive. It includes a compendium of bizarre but amusing facts that you can explore further or share as dinnertime conversational tidbits — that block of blue ice, anyone?
For a trip through time full of the magic of story telling, don’t skip this wonderful production full of heart, mystery and whimsy.