Sunday, January 26, 2014

Christopher Plummer Has 'A Word Or Two'

By Darlene Donloe

Christopher Plummer, the Tony Award and Academy Award winner, is holding a master class on the Ahmanson Theatre stage.

 One the finest and most respected actors on the planet, Plummer is baring his soul as he shares his lifetime love of literature.

It’s poignant, hilarious, touching, intimate and stately for the audience and probably incredibly lethargic for the legendary actor.

A Word Or Two, a one-man show, is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys) and written, arranged and performed by Plummer who draws his audience in with his incredible wit, timing and colorful way around a story.

“This brief interlude of mine could be described as a personal stroll through literature that has stirred my imagination since you, ad that I cannot let go,” says Plummer. “The poetry and prose I have chosen is both silly and sad, sacred and profane. They range from Winnie the Pooh to the Old Testament, from Nash and Leacock to Shaw and Wilde from Auden and Frost to Shakespeare and Jonson. They are intended to illuminate along the way the several phases of my particular moon.”

 Plummer, who confesses to being “hooked on the intoxication of words,” spent much of his time growing up in Montreal reading Ben Jonson, George Bernard Shaw, Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, Lord Byron, Dylan Thomas, W.H. Auden and Stephen Leacock, and others.  His personal take on these literary giants forms a journey from childhood to old age. 

For 80 minutes the 84-year-old Plummer effortlessly saunters around the stage offering up tidbits about moments of his life that directly correlate with what he was reading at the time.

Plummer’s love for books is obvious. He breathes them. He hugs them. He respects them. But, most of all, he reads them and appreciates the art form.

Plummer loves books. That’s very clear. He’s been having an affair with books for decades. They took him places, they taught him things, they kept him company when there was no one else around.   He suffered from what he calls “crippling shyness.” He remembers the first time he came in contact with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.  He was hooked.

Plummer is nothing short of brilliant.  McAnuff’s direction is tight. Robert Brill’s set actually sets the tone with its inclusion of a plume of books rising to the heavens, a desk and chair.

Plummer would have been just as effective with a bare stage. He shines. His sparkling persona and engaging delivery make A Word or Two a must see!

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (Oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), A Word or Two gets an E (excellent).

A Word or Two, Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., LA; 8 p.m. Tues-Thu., 3 p.m. Sat and Feb. 9, 1 p.m. Feb. 2. Ends Feb. 9; $20-$90; 213 972-4400 and  Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission.

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