There have been a number of performances that will travel with me for quite some time during Hollywood Fringe 2017…
Andrew Perez in The Second Coming of Klaus Kinski, Nicholas Daly Clark of Nights at the Algonquin Round Table, Sacha Elie of Who You Calling A Bitch?, Damla Coskun of Chimpskin, Steve Scott of Secret Honor, The Last Testament of Richard M. Nixon, Kate Ponzio of Save Me a Spot, Stephen Spiegel of An Evening With John Wilkes Booth, Veronica Wylie of Two Motherf#ck*rs on a Ledge, Panos Vlahos of Mistero Buffo, Joanne Hartstonwe of The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign…
And now I have a new name to add to that list:
Marcus J. Freed in Solomon: King, Poet & Lover.
Now an evening based on the Biblical Solomon—as a psychological study of the historical figure through the prism of rabbinic commentary on the Old Testament—might seem to have limited appeal to your average American audience who 1) has never tried reading the Bible except in Classic Illustrated Comic form, 2) ranks anything having to do with “history” slightly below inflamed hemorrhoids, and whose 3) knowledge of Solomon is likely limited to “he chopped a kid in half and was smart.”
Freed and his co-writer Rabbi Dr. Raphael Zarum have acknowledged and apprised these obstacles with unflinching eyes resulting in one of the most unique, as well as one of the most entertaining shows of the 2017 Fringe.
Wisely the show has less scripture and more Shakespeare, and while we are treated to selections from the Song of Solomon, more emphasis is given to the songs of Leonard Cohen, actually, just “song”; meaning of course, his exquisite “Hallelujah” (1984).
And then there is Freed himself….
In The Second Coming of Klaus Kinski, Andrew Perez gave an explosive passionate performance fueled on the anguish and insanity of his subject.
Freed could be said to be Perez’s artistic doppelganger, drawing from his subject a passion of a more intimate kind, yet no less intense than that which Perez excavated.
Freed’s performance is equally as dynamic as Perez’s.
But whereas Perez’s energy tore from the stage with the unconstrained intensity of a detonating bomb, Freed’s dynamism was restrained with the momentum and precision of a master sculptor striking hammer to chisel.
Reading the program notes seem to impart that Freed is an artist with a three-tiered soul: yoga, theatre, his faith.
It is in orchestrating from these, a balance verging on perfection, that his show emerges as one that both engages and enlightens the audience.
Like the badchen of old, he weaves together soliloquies from Henry V and agile gambols, take-offs on The Godfather, snatches of song, wisecracks and insights and the thread he uses throughout is his own sincerity.
And so Freed succeeds in making a man who lived some three centuries ago seem very modern to us, and his suffering very familiar.
His accomplishment can, perhaps, best be appreciated when gauged by me.
Freed’s faith is not mine.
Old legends told of an angry storm god hold no importance for me.
Yet, with amazing artistry and consummate skill, Freed permeates his stage, and encompasses his audience with an ancient tale of a man seeking truth in the chaos of life and through his sincerity of purpose and the profoundness of his performance he is able to touch that divinity within all humanity.
And that’s worthy of arousing, even from me, a shout of “Hallelujah!”
A PLATINUM MEDAL.
♦ ♦ ♦
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