#20at20: ChannelingKevinSpacey

My favorite season (aside from Fall): 20at20!

Only a few days left – ends 9/23 – for the $20 tickets at 20 minutes to curtain for over 20 off-Broadway shows.  Between my work in dance and summer travels, I haven’t seen any non-dance performances since, well, late Spring.  This round of 20at20, other than Fuerza Bruta, the offerings were mostly unfamiliar to me (although part of me wants to see Angelina Ballerina The Musical).

And then I saw Kevin Spacey‘s name.  I’m still bummed I didn’t make it to BAM to see him in Richard III.  Ever since I saw his face on a poster for his kingly duties, I’ve had a little obsession with Sir Spacey.  Not sure why, since I can’t think of anything I ever saw him in.  My obsession was not so great that I bothered to “google” him or watch one of his movies, but was somewhat gratified by attending Channeling Kevin Spacey at the Roy Arias Theatre Center for $20 on Saturday.

Let me preface this review by saying that someone who actually follows Spacey’s work would probably be a better guide, especially since the show is promoted as “Office Space meets Scarface.”  The only quotables I recognized were from The Help and Al Pacino (whom I frequently confuse with Robert De Niro).

Justin R.G. Holcomb leads this two-man comedy as Charlie, a generic washed-out-overworked-understimulated man awash in his average-ness.  Charlie stumbles through his dull daily existence of work, awkward social encounters, microwave dinners, and Netflix.  Jamil Chokachi plays many roles (I lost count) from Charlie’s cheating-hooker girlfriend to psychiatrist to greasy boss to sweet bagel clerk to a wannabe pimp.

Charlie’s life is shit.  He has no interests other than going to work, leaving work, going home, eating dinner, and watching movies.  His live-in girlfriend is a charity case, but he can’t seem to do any better.  Holcomb makes Charlie as lovable as possible despite his pathetic state of being.  Chokachi flits back and forth between characters (sometimes in the same scene multiple times) with gusto.  Their rapport is strong; which supports a somewhat slow-moving two-hour and intermission-less evening.

Charlie has a revelation about his less-than enjoyable life while watching a Kevin Spacey movie.  He then stages an intervention on himself.  At some point in his intervention, his inspiration from Spacey gravitates towards an Al Pacino fest.  For us chick-flick oriented audience members, Charlie did throw out a quote from The Help and Chokachi poked fun at Tom Cruise.  I recognized a couple Pacino quotes, but mostly kept thinking, “if my ex-boyfriend were here (or any of my guy friends) he/they would be shouting these lines along with Charlie and would fill me in on why this is so funny afterward.”  Again, my Spacey obsession makes no sense – I haven’t even seen his Academy Award winning turn in American Beauty, yes, I finally “googled” him.

The Pacino-inspired character makeover goes on too long.  Charlie wreaks havoc only on himself and only generates a bit of fuss from those in his life.  His reinvention doesn’t bring change in his life, it simply changes his day.  He does manage to get fired, but again, that doesn’t seem to change much for him.  The impersonations are hysterical, as is the dig to the RNC & Clint Eastwood’s chair but the use of Beyonce’s Single Ladies is tiring.

The writing is witty, but as my roommate and I discussed on the way out, went to far.  We got the idea!  Holcomb and Chokachi keep the energy high, their interactions with the audience are endearing and as authentic as such pre-scripted variations can be.  However, others in the audience who seemed to be more “educated” on the Spacey-Pacino references appeared thoroughly engaged.

I think it fixed my Kevin Spacey obsession.  I’m not sure what drove this obsession and I still haven’t seen a Spacey film.

Take advantage of 20at20.  Avenue Q is next on my list!

I’m aware that, from the outside, this looks like I’ve got quite an ego.” ~Kevin Spacey

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