Photo by Don Kellogg

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kaddish (or The Key in the Window)

The Adaptations Project is presenting a powerful work based on the poem of the same name, Kaddish, by Allen Ginsberg.  Created and performed by Donnie Mather, the show was originally work shopped in 2009 at the New York International Fringe Festival by The Present Company.   A Kaddish, in Hebrew, is a prayer for the dead.  Mr. Ginsburg wrote his original poem as an elegy on the death of his mother and it has been transformed to a one-man memory-play for the stage.

In summary, Mr. Mather is hauntingly beautiful.  His every spoken word is painful yet tender; depressing yet hopeful.  The memories flow from his lips like water from a fountain - a continuous and chaotic cascade of emotion and passion.  A one-man show is probably one of the most frightening things an actor can mount - and Donnie executes flawlessly with a keen awareness of the subject, his thoughts and fears, and his demeanor and tone.  In a mere 80 minutes, Mr. Mather paints a vivid picture of Mr. Ginsburg's life with and without his mother.  For a fleeting moment, I felt similar to how i felt watching Jefferson Mays' brilliant performance in I Am My Own Wife.  Different play entirely, but a very similar vibe.

It's not every day that you can experience this depth of performance.  The experience is further magnified by the simple set and intentionally varied lighting (Brian H Scott), ingeniously timed and well placed video projections (C. Andrew Bauer) and eerie sound scape (Darron L West, Stowe Nelson) all in such an intimate and close space.