review: title and deed

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Title and Deed

Written by Will Eno
Directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett
Featuring Conor Lovett
The Pershing Square Signature Center
Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre, 480 West 42nd Street
May 20, 2012 — June 17, 2012
production web site
Reviewed by Martha Wade Steketee
May 18, 2012

  • “Just keep the screaming to yourself, if you would.”
  • “Love — is a many splintered thing.”
  • “We all have a map in our head that divides the world into ‘home’ and ‘away’.”
  • “I think the words take a toll. They sort of wear you down.”
Conor Lovett. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Advance press tells me that poet and verbal provocateur Will Eno crafted his new one man vehicle Title and Deed for the star Conor Lovett and his director Judy Hegarty Lovett. In the delightfully-dimensioned Signature Griffin Jewel Box theatre (because any review this first producing season must talk a bit about the delicious new Signature digs, yes it must, I can’t stop myself), we have in this new show one man, a few lighting cues, an elliptical story of homelessness by choice, and his experience of being, as many artists have observed, a stranger in a strange land.

Our host, the unnamed “Man” played by Mr. Lovett, tells a tale to us in full up house lights (or it feels that way in retrospect) for much of the time.  His quiet brogue-y delivery of a man who has landed from an unnamed “other” (by choice, in an attempt to escape, we never really are told the full story nor does it really matter) to “here” in this place.  He describes how things are done differently back home — where there is a parade for most anything and every one knows your business. And he describes in spare detail how he has made do, even how some local people “here” once took him in.  In his story (points for this, he blames no one but himself) it is his own fault that he was asked to leave — he didn’t meet his end of the bargain by contributing to the household upkeep.  The adventure is direct address, with a share of humorous malapropisms, and sometimes perhaps unintended audience participation.  In my audience, for example, at least one person decided repeatedly to respond to the Man’s story telling interrogatories (“Isn’t that right?” or “You know how it is” — that kind of thing) with verbal agreement that one feared would go into a full confessional.  Lovett kept control, and we in the audience remained on edge.

A universal story of alien-ness.  Some poetry in the process, and sometimes extended silences.  A rambling mind.  A bit as if one allowed an educated, basically verbal homeless person — pick one among those roaming 42nd Street most any day — to tell a tale without a single guiding interrogatory. An entertaining exercise, with some snatches of poetry and astute observations.

© Martha Wade Steketee (May 20, 2012)

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