Arthur Simone's Dear Frailty uncovers a dark and twitchy side of humanity
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Aug. 7, 2009
through Aug. 28
Running time: Approximately 1 hr
Remember Luigi Galvani, the Italian scientist who, back in the 1700s, ran electrical current through the muscles of dead frogs, making their pinned, skinned limbs quiver and twitch? If Dear Frailty's Arthur Simone has a muse, we reckon she's a big Galvani fan.
Simone, one-third of the ColdTowne posse of improvisers, is also a champion Air Sex and Air Guitar performer. He works – not dabbles – in paint, too, wrestling with the masked marvels of abstract expressionism. He was even, may Shiva spare his soul, a winner in the O. Henry Pun-Off back in '07. Multi, as they say, talented.
Now the dark-haired artiste has this one-man show going on Friday nights through the end of August, and his muse, the relentless bitch, seems to have shoved a wire deep into his spine and is cackling over the micro-spasms of performance resultant therefrom.
There's no improvisation here. No goofs for laughs, particularly, either, although the several characters Simone portrays in his almost 60 minutes onstage provoke both nervous giggles and the occasional helpless guffaw. These aren't cartoons he's got going here; these are evocations of real and twisted people, the places where cheaper parody comes from: a grocery-store clerk who's obsessed with physical decay and aging and wants to burn the decay out of everyone's all-too-human flesh; a girl who's not quite happy about her lover's predilection for, ah, water sports; an old woman remembering her harsh past; and the PowerPoint presenter with his hilarious report on the future of capitalism.
And Simone, throughout it all, inhabiting the different characters to a believable and creepy level, with little costumery or props, renders a series of portraits as his muse increases the current to provoke another creative seizure, the jolts reflected in the actor's eyes, his jittery intense manner of delivery. This is good stuff; this is dark and twitchy and very human stuff; it is well-written and equally well-performed, and sometimes it will make you laugh. What's presented in Dear Frailty is not what some people would call "normal," probably. But fuck them; they wouldn't like this show anyway.