Reviewed by Chris Cassone - firstname.lastname@example.org
David Dean Bottrell calls himself a veteran actor and writer, yet he possesses so much youthful verve, it is hard to believe he's got that much under his belt. Yes, he's got an IMDB list that goes on forever including
Fraser, Modern Family, Boston Legal. Law and Order, Blacklist.... Suffice it to say, we were not prepared for his energy and the dazzle as he held the audience in complete awe with his storytelling. It's a crying shame that he is only here for five days but the sixteen-year young award-winning theatrical company, Rogue Machine, helped make it happen within these five days.
"Storytelling" as a description does the whole evening a bit of an injustice. His "stories' come from his real-life experiences but amplified with his entertaining perspective, a simple yarn about the death of a mid-west uncle turns into hilarity with a heavy dose of humanity. While the overall throughline was death, his and others, you never felt a sense of the morose or even grief coming from him. In fact, laughing in the face of the Grim Reaper is what propels this Beverly Hills Kentuckian to marshal his audience behind him. Why, he even had us chant and repeat, call and respond, and applaud at all the right times. And ending each scene with a snap of his fingers followed by a blackout was very effective.
What started out as an informal chat, thoroughly devoid of the fourth wall, turned into intense drama at times as he told of keeping watch for a couple's dying father as they left to have dinner. The slapstick of "Don't die on me until they return," as David tried to keep his friend's dad alive was hysterical. Dad ultimately did not die on his watch, yet we all understood the hopelessness of his situation, laughing and crying through it all.
The scene that brought me closer to these multitasking tears was when he was pepper sprayed by street people. In his agonizing blindness and pulmonary arrest, he screamed as they ran away, "Well, at least f***ing rob me, for crying out loud!" to make the pain worth it, at least. Yet his pain drove our guffawing as he forgot that he had pepper spray on his hands as he hit the men's room. And we all shifted in our seats while laughing and applauding. Bottrell has that innate ability to drive the nail directly into the funny bone.
His parting philosophy to us in the round of the Matrix's wonderful theatrical space was, "When you feel free, really free, that is as far from dead as you will ever be." Poetry.
His examination of simple chapters in his life showed that we all have something to tell, to share and to learn from each other as we all sit around the modern campfire. And this comes with the words of an elder echoing in his ears: "The One Person Show is the last bastion of the unemployable."
I wouldn't miss this glimpse into the heart and soul of a dynamic storyteller with more than a shot of Kentucky sweetness in him.
Snap fingers. Lights out.
The Rogue Theatre production runs 8pm Thursday- Saturday; 3pm Sunday through January 14 at The Matrix Theatre 7657 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
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