For years, Britain's Steven Berkoff has been slashing his way through plays (often of his own making), movie villainy, and one-man screeds, scowling, growling, leering, jeering, menacing, and wheedling. Ham? Yes, but the very best -- strictly prosciutto di Parma. Abrasive and scabrous? Sure, but with such winning gusto. Over the top? What top? That tiny thing way down there?
Berkoff is back with One Man, a solo in three acts, two of which he also wrote. First, a rendering of Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," playing all the roles. Then "Actor," wherein he wryly encapsulates an actor's life, as Stanislavsky could not have imagined it. Lastly, "Dog," enacting both the feral cur and his beastly owner, a lout mostly sounding off at the pub. He excels at accents, impersonations, double-talk, vocal sound effects, mime, and extruded flutter-tonguing to make flutists envious.
Funny, outrageous, obnoxious, crass yet seductive, Berkoff is a bundle of energy that could drive a locomotive up the wall. His acting is so total that he totals every ordinary part; only his own one-man squibs and diatribes, envenomed caricatures, and scurrilous jibes can contain his rant. He corroborates Wilde's epigram that nothing succeeds like excess; the only thing he has trouble doing is less.
ary Shelley's Frankenstein has been adapted to stage and screen countless times, and threatens to outlast the nobler works of her more famous husband. The latest version is Neal Bell's Monster, as directed by Michael Greif. Since the novel provides very little dialogue, Bell fills in with mixed results: an occasional snappy line amid much that is merely serviceable.
Greif's notion of horror seems to be noise, the louder the better, with abundant offstage detonations. The shouting contest for a cast of seven (with several doublings) is easily won by Christen Clifford as the maid, Justine. Christopher Donahue, as the eponymous creature, and Annie Parisse, as the heroine, Elizabeth, fully satisfy; as Dr. Frankenstein, Jake Weber is inept and dreary; the rest fall in between. Robert Brill's set consists of two parallel, hyperactive shower curtains, which Kenneth Posner's lighting valiantly struggles to justify.