From Nathan Adams' blog,
(link above also takes you there)
Corpus Theatre Collective presents "The Songs of Robert", as a part of North Carolina Stage Company's Catalyst Series. The "verse play with live music" was written by and stars John Crutchfield as a whole host of characters, including the vulnerable titular character.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself at this show, and not only that, I found it to be of an excellent quality. Unfortunately, the two do not always find each other in the same theatre. But in this (dare I make bold praise) modern American masterwork of a play, John Crutchfield deftly combines both entertainment and comedy, and deep insights and beautiful poetry.
Crutchfield lithely leaps from character to character with the grace and style of ballet dancer. That doesn't mean you don't see him work though. One of the things I noticed during the opening scene was how big his "basketballs" had to be to do this. One man, his work, alone on a stage, telling a room full of southern people that they look nice, for white people.
I really appreciated the ability to see Crutchfield work at his change of characters. To just watch him as he turned his back to the audience, and to see his body build the energy necessary to leap into the next character, was an example of why so many love theatre.
The structure of this one-act play is not what one might call conventional. We are given glimpses into the world of Robert, a senior in high school, mostly through monologues and "scenes" with other characters in his life, but also through Robert himself. These scenes provide some of the most touching moments in the play. The structure of the play actually reminds me of the landmark musical, "Company" (whose protagonist is also named, coincidentally, Robert). Like the musical, we are given glimpses into the lead character's life, all culminating in one final song.
And don't think that this is a mere vanity project by an actor who isn't really a writer. The script is beautiful, and I would love to someday have a copy in my library. Crutchfield states in his notes, "Until I find someone to do it for me, I'll be performing it myself." And while I hope he continues to do so, as to watch his perform it is a gold medal treat, I also hope that the piece continues to have a life beyond him, and I will be the first in line to buy it if it is published.
Fly, don't run down to the North Carolina Stage Company to see this show. Realize how lucky we are to have so many talented local writers producing work, and support it. This show only has three performances left, so get thee to a ticket website!
Nathan H. Adams
19 September 2008
From Nathan Adams' blog,