BWW Review: Jason Phelps Charms in TITLE AND DEED
TITLE AND DEED has much the same structure as playwright Will Eno's brilliant Thom Pain, but what it doesn't have, is the same degree of anger. Instead, this solo performance piece is a sharply funny meditation on life in all of its absurd glory. In ways, it seems the sole character, Man (brilliantly essayed by Jason Phelps), is a visitor, perhaps not just to this locale but maybe even to this planet.
The script has more than the usual number of non-sequiturs (I am reminded of the work of Beckett, especially his Endgame) that present a challenge to the performer but they infuse the piece with a remarkable energy and wonder. It is Jason Phelps skill as a storyteller and his ability to give an existential patina to his performance that makes this a fascinatingly emotional journey with this lost soul as he makes a strong connection with us, his audience. Familiar phrases and platitudes like 'who knows' and 'don't ever change' get transformed or twisted into word drunk punch lines for long meandering passages. It is a humorous and clearly heartfelt exploration of the transience of life, theatre, and indeed of words themselves.
Director Mark Pickell has created a brilliant observation monologue and clearly knows how to bring out the best in Phelps. He also does a great job in enhancing the sense that the traveler we are listening to does not appear to be from this planet. He also has a clear affinity for Eno's extremely wry sense of humor and his to aim that directly at the audience's emotional trigger spots.
I highly recommend TITLE AND DEED for a rewarding and amusing visit with a stranger who will help you get a clearer look at yourself while exploring some pretty deep thoughts. These are important questions. How are you going to answer them?
TITLE AND DEED by Will Eno
Running Time: 70 Minutes with No Intermission
TITLE AND DEED produced by Capital T Theatre at Hyde Park Theatre (plays Hyde Park Theatre (511 W43rd St).
Performance Dates: Aug. 24 - Sep. 16, Thursdays-Saturdays
Tickets $20, VIP tickets $30 plus service fees, available online via buyplaytix