A review by Suzanne Birrell
The American Premiere of Altman's Last Stand written by Charles Dennis and now showing at the Zepher Theatre is a wonderful show with many layers. The woman I sat next to thought it was a good portrayal of the Jewish persona. I thought it was like spending an afternoon with my grandfather. Michael Laskin is absolutely marvelous in his portrayal of an elderly gentleman who has lived a long life and who is distracted by current events. He takes us back and forth in time, one thought leading to another thought.
Franz Altman is being interviewed by People Magazine. He is holding the fort so to speak in that powerful developers have bought up everything around him in order to erect a high rise, but he refuses to sell. Through this interview we learn about his mother and father and teachers and eventually the why of his ability to take a stand against those in power. We hear about how he was separated from his family through war and more. It is a journey through the 20th century. The phone continuously interrupts the interview and we second hand meet more people. Franz Altman is a celebrity because his battle with the developers was featured on the TV show
60 Minutes. He is facing eviction the next morning unless he gets $10,000 worth of wiring to upgrade his shop or face eviction but he doesn't seem phased as he appears to juggle the past with the present. And then suddenly, we realize that old buzzard is manipulating and conniving. Tomorrow will be fine and he will be the winner. It is a classic Prairie Home Companion type of story which weaves though the lives of many people only to come full circle.
Altman's Last Stand is a wonderful show. It is not a black box presentation of a solo performance. It has a comfortable set lovingly designed by Yee Eun Nam. The projection of photographs behind Franz is a wonderful addition. Directed by Charles Haid the play moves like a well-choreographed dance.
Altman's Last Stand is one of those plays that inspires isolated laughter here and there as it touches our lives. Michael Laskin is comfortable in the skin of Franz Altman. Though he is playing a Jewish man who went through WWII in concentration camps, he reminded my so much of my Scottish grandfather I felt right at home.
Solo plays are not generally my favorite, but I loved this play. Altman's Last Stand is a gem. I was sad to see it end. When Altman invited the interviewer to share a meal and they exited, I wanted to go too. Michael Laskin is brilliantly engaging. If I saw him on the street I would feel as though I was meeting an old friend. I highly recommend this play. Go see it, your life will be richer for the experience.
Friday, Saturday and Sundays thru March 13, 2016.
7456 Melrose Ave.