Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Title and Deed: Its Charms Escaped Me

Title and Deed at the Signature Theater is a show which I did not like, although I admire the actor who did a fine job with the material, Connor Lovett.  It could easily be that I just didn’t understand the show, which was very much in the Samuel Beckett tradition.

Title and Deed is a simple one-man show, a monologue delivered to the audience from a visitor from another country.  That non-descript country is definitely not Ireland – despite the Irish accent.  Making the country unidentifiable seems to be a decision designed to remove every possibility of identifying with this person.  Care is taken to make this character abstractly and totally foreign to the audience.  His voice is quiet, his cadence is labored, and the laughs he engenders early in the show are met with an uncomfortable flash that he might have said the wrong thing.

Conner Lovett plays a visitor in Title and Deed
Mr. Lovett’s mannerisms are designed to reinforce a message that every man is traveling far from home – each is alone, even when surrounded by people.  It worked a bit too well for much of the audience, who felt so removed from Mr. Lovett that many were not invested in the outcome.

The character is definitely a fish out of water.  He finds the simplest interactions beyond his grasp, and struggles trying to connect with a woman he admires.   Some might be entranced with the lilt, and the character’s rambling story.  Faced with a passive character that was very difficult to relate to, most of the audience disengaged from the story long before the end of the show.

Charles Isherwood of the New York Times, a man I admire greatly, “got” the show and has a wonderful glowing review.  I am linking it here because I think I missed the point of the show - and he loved it. (NY Times Review)

The amazing acoustics in the smallest of the Frank Gehery designed theaters worked both for and against Mr. Lovett.  His voice reached every viewer, even in his quiet and gentle asides.  However, the audience members’ every twitch, rustle of program and sigh was also heard.  And despite the desire of the audience to enjoy the show, you could hear and feel the audience slip away.

I think the show was acted and directed appropriate to the material; it just wasn’t a show I enjoyed.
Tile and Deed at The Signature Theater
Playwright: Will Eno
Director: Judy Hegarty Lovett
Cast: Conner Lovett

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