Michelangelo Did This!
- by Howard Hain
review in SF Examiner April 17, 2002 (Leslie
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- The agony and the ecstasy
- By Leslie Katz
Of The Examiner Staff
- It's the 21st century, and master artist Michelangelo
has come down from heaven to share
his views on art, nature, the meaning of life, and of
life after death.
- It sounds good. Michelangelo the personality
delivers his insights with panache. He's
almost as good a talker as he was painter and sculptor.
- Unfortunately, though, a lively performance
by Nick Scoggin as the title character is not
enough to propel "Michelangelo Did This?"
into a wholly satisfying experience. For while
Scoggin is compelling and playwright Howard Hain tosses
out some interesting ideas, this
world premiere -- presented by Ghenghis Productions
and Studio 300 -- lacks cohesion, and
any sort of dramatic tension.
- The two-act show might work better as a one-act,
one-man performance that sticks solely
to Michelangelo's musings and rantings. The precursor
and afterward to Michelangelo's
appearance don't add anything to the proceedings, and
neither does the device that brings
Michelangelo back to earth.
- The show begins in San Francisco's North Beach,
where a bunch of supposedly colorful
locals (Italian, of course) hang out at a cafÈ
and debate the meaning of art. But after at least
15 tedious minutes, it's not apparent that any point
has been made.
- Next, for reasons not entirely clear, we're
in a bakery in the town of Ridicium, Iowa, where
Harold (Joshua Duthie), the 19-year-old baker's son,
sweeps the floor and agonizes about not
knowing what to do with his life. He tells his woes
to his co-worker Eldon (Robert Brindley), a
snobby student who brings art history tomes to work.
- Harry tells Eldon he's been having weird dreams;
Eldon confirms that the dreams are in
Latin. It turns out that Harry is the vessel through
which Michelangelo comes back to life.
- Next thing we know, we're in Harry's bedroom,
and Michelangelo bursts onto the scene.
He's riveting. The animated Scoggins delightfully goes
off about anything and everything. He
badmouths Picasso and book-learning and glorifies the
virtures of hard work, desire and
authenticity as the origin of true art.
- Though Michelangelo's philosophizing is truly
engaging, it's not sufficiently connected to
Harry, whose growth or changes aren't observable over
the nearly two hours of "Michelangelo
- While Duthie looks the part of a befuddled 19-year-old,
he's never convincing. It may be
that Duthie isn't up to the challenge of the role, and
it may be because Hain hasn't written
enough of a story to warrant any interest in the character.
- That's the difficulty with "Michelangelo
Did This?" While it has one engaging person with
some fascinating things to say, there are too many other
folks whose commentary doesn't
add up, and, in the end, detracts from the main points
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