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Chapel Hill, NC- and San Jose, CA-based Wordshed Productions opens its 2006-07 season with On Greed and Loneliness, an entertaining one-man show adapted, directed, and performed by Wordshed co-artistic director Chris Chiron. This solo performance piece provides a splendid showcase for Chiron’s writing and acting talents.
On Greed and Loneliness opens with Chiron’s cheeky reenactment of “The Pardoner’s Tale” by English literary giant Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400). Using Neil Coghill’s modern-verse translation of this choice episode from The Canterbury Tales, Chris Chiron gets positively medieval, dons a monk’s robe, and calls on a hilarious repertoire of comic facial expressions and voices to limn the murderous trio of double-crossers and everyone whom they encounter in this cautionary tale of greed run amok in a time of plague.
Next up is “Text for Nothing #4,” a real head-scratcher by Irish expatriate author Samuel Beckett (1906-89). Seated on the floor of a prison cell or some claustrophobic room in the unidentified refuge of a hermit or agoraphobic, Chiron puts his own personal spin on Beckett’s rambling existential monologue on being and nothingness.
Then comes an episode of sheer whimsy—“The Artichoke” by contemporary Colorado poet and short story writer Marilyn Krysl—in which Chiron hilariously impersonates a hard-to-please woman in a dining car on a train as she rambles on and on and on until she gets her just deserts.
Chiron then slips into a suit for an imaginative and eloquent recitation of “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock,” that classic poem of frustration and futility by American by expatriate poet, playwright, and literary critic T.S. Eliot (1888-1965).
For the final tasty tidbit of the evening, Chiron takes a seat on a stool and turns storyteller. He talks directly to the audience as he affectionately retells “The Story of Baucis and Philemon” from the Metamorphoses of Ovid (43 BC-17 AD). The actor/adapter leaves the audience smiling with this tender tale of a poor but compassionate elderly couple whose characteristic generosity to strangers pays unexpected dividends.
Employing a table, a chair, a stool, and three manikins on which to hang the actor’s constantly changing wardrobe, set designer Rob Hamilton transforms the Studio 6 stage into a highly versatile playing area that Chris Chiron exploits to the fullest, and lighting designer Cecilia Durbin and sound designer Enrique Varela combine their lighting skills and sound effects and snippets of music and ambient sound to help the actor punctuate each vivid episode of this robust five-scene solo piece, which is performed without intermission.
To underscore the somber or silly mood of various scenes, Chris Chiron has singer Shannon O’Neill perform a potpourri of traditional and contemporary songs, including “You Don’t Know Me,” “Pie Jesu,” “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?,” “Hot in Harlem” and “Regular Joe,” and “So This Is Love.” O’Neill has a clear and most expressive voice, and she delivers each of these lyrics with feeling.
Wordshed Productions presents On Greed and Loneliness Wednesday-Saturday, Sept. 20-23 and 27-30, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept 24 and Oct. 1, at 2 p.m. in Studio 6 in Swain Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. $7 ($5 students, seniors, and UNC faculty and staff). 919/932-5829 or mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org. Wordshed Productions: http://www.unc.edu/wordshed/.