Thursday, March 27, 2014

Not a Typical One-Man Show: Pat Kinevane in "Forgotten" by M.R. Hunter

One-person shows can seem a lot like enduring a 90 minute therapy session…only the audience isn’t the one getting paid for their time. At best, the performer may entertain, enlighten or stimulate thought like any other production, but in the worst of scenarios, there’s more navel-gazing, ego-stroking and basking in the glorious limelight of someone’s own scripted biography.

Irish actor Pat Kinevane is none of the latter and better than the former. He’s the real deal both as an artist, a writer and an activist using the stage to broach conversation about the unspoken. His two plays “Forgotten” and “Silent” running in a limited three-week engagement at the Odyssey Theatre touch on the absurdity of life, loss, aging and loneliness—in effect, humanity.

I had the privilege to interview Kinevane for EyeSpyLA during his “Forgotten” run in 2011 (Read interview HERE). His concerns for the elderly, lack of support as well as the psychological and emotional toil pivoted between his contemplative observations, frustration and witty candor. Much like his personality, “Forgotten” which follows the lives of four seniors in a nursing home is keenly astute and literarily sublime, but brimming with dollops of humor as he engages and flirts with the audience.

Kinevane does not perform, he inhabits the stage. His lithe yet masculine physique belies an electrifying sexuality as he gracefully crouches, prowls and wipes the floor with his spittle. Bare-chested and likewise barefooted wearing shorn shorts, he is the embodiment of his language both erudite and complex and yet, powerful in its accessibility. A shapeshifter in his corporal manifestations and a chameleon in his portrayals of two men: Flor and Gustus; and two women Dora and Eucharia, all four are interwoven in a passionate flurry maintained and controlled by his ability to reflexively morph from scene to scene. He is all contradiction, pushing the boundaries to include duality in gender, intellect, fear and rage tinged with pride and regret.

It is the tension he creates that suspends us into a seemingly two-way banter with old friend, Dora—sharp, fussy and wistful as she recounts her trysts and liaisons to a bitter conclusion. There is Dora’s housekeeper, Eucharia, who chats and tosses marshmallows directly with and to an audience member, as she primps and moisturizes her face in a mirror with dilligence. The men are less engaging but not any the less dynamic. Flor, a journeyman whose dalliance with Dora is all but a memory now must defend his autonomy against nurses as he seethes, bristles and muses compared to the sad, pre-recorded admission of crippled stroke victim, Gustus.

Merging the lives of these four elders beyond their age of independence but fiercely capable, Kinevane’s fragmentary yet cohesive spiral through the tales of these former selves reflects by the end a universal fear of having been forgotten or made irrelevant. It isn’t necessarily a story about aging, but about being unheard and the desire to matter while we are still here. It is this nugget of wisdom and insight that gives this play a lasting impression of connectivity to us all.

The poetic text sings with Kinevane’s Irish inflection infusing it with soul, mood and friendliness. He encourages the audience to speak to him without losing control or handing over the reins. It’s easy to lose ourselves, forget our place and our role as participants as he cheerily seeks our acknowledgment or approval as deftly as he rebuilds the fourth wall after he has smashed it.

It is difficult to only align with one of his colorfully detailed and fleshed out characters. Dora, the consummate hostess is wicked, while Eucharia is sweetly charming and saucy. Both share their tender secrets and deepest wounds. Flor is our hero and the strength of a man not easily defeated, but it is Gustus who is brought to life in the most dramatic and simplest of ways with only a mask, a stool and his voice echoing lamentations by the breadth of Kinevane’s back.

There is no one quite like Pat Kinevane, but don’t let the sole man performer fool you. He is dedicated to immersing himself fully into his roles and contradictorily, he brings so much of his own personality to bear without falling into the trap of self-aggrandizement. It’s not about him as much as it is through him which makes for a splendid, intoxicating and spell-binding experience.

We are richer for his brief return, gracing our stage once again with his hybrid of all the essentials, contradictions and particulars that make us human. See “Silent” or “Forgotten.” Just see Pat Kinevane. He is the epitome of an artist creating and relating beyond his own self.

“Silent” and “Forgotten”
Runs through April 6
Friday, March 28 at 8 p.m.: Silent
Saturday, March 29 at 8 p.m.: Silent
Sunday, March 30 at 2 p.m.: Silent
Thursday, April 3 at 8 p.m.: Forgotten
Sunday, April 6 at 5 p.m.: Forgotten
Odyssey Theatre
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025
Thursdays and Fridays: $25
Saturdays and Sundays: $30
(310) 477-2055 ext. 2

Photo credit: Pat Redmond and Veronica Forsgren

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