Drugstores are Full of Euphemisms.
“Slipknot” is not an inappropriate word for this outstandingly performed and well-crafted solo play which opened at 18th & Union, (formerly New City) this weekend. Slip refers to casual jobs one just innocently “slips” into without realizing the knots which will bind us as we keep working at them day by day, week by week, month by month until we feel our brains have been reformatted to do only that one thing. Andrew Litzky’s superlative performance was, for me, a once in a life-time experience, because it was without a doubt not only the best solo performance I have ever seen, but probably, the best solo performance I will likely ever see.
With exceptionally good comic timing, as well as facial expression and physicality to match, he kept the audience enthralled for 90 minutes with a vigorously energetic and touching performance. Possessing an elastic face, whose expressions were used to punctuate the absurdity of his menial jobs, Litzsky’s performance was reminiscent of Art Carney’s character Ed Norton in the ‘50’s sit-com the Honeymooners.
Written by Canadian TJ Dawe, the subject matter was fairly standard material for biographical solo plays; it was about the “day-jobs” young people have during the summers in college, and just after. Even Milos Forman, the Czech movie director of Hair and One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest, had a solo-show about being a waiter in London, after he fled Prague in 1968.
However, what was original was the structure of Slipknot. Three stories about three different jobs, at three different times in the author’s life are told simultaneously, along with the various personal frustrations and lifestyle issues, plaguing students and young adults. How to re-locate to a new city without a job or a place to live! How to keep a long distance relationship alive! How to survive civil service customer service jobs! How to deal with embarrassed customers in a drug-store! How to get fired from a job which scares the bejesus out of you! And most importantly how to survive driving in a snow storm, from Vancouver to Calgary, over the Rocky Mountains, without snow tires! The text was incredibly witty and contained a lot of hilarious one-liners.
What made this show particularly intriguing, besides Litzsky’s outstanding performance, and K. Brian Neel’s direction, was the way the three stories were told in bits and pieces, but when they structurally and thematically collided, the actor seamlessly switched from one narrative to the other. It was highly effective and had a tender unexpected ending. 18th & Union, the old New City space, is perfect for one person shows.
An opportunity to see such a superb solo performance does not come along often in Seattle or anywhere for that matter, this is a must see, so brave the weather and take a break from Christmas shows.
Slipknot. theatre simple. 18th& Union. 1406 -18th Ave, Central District, Seattle, WA 98122. Playing: Mon Dec. 12, Fri 16, Wed 21, Fri 23 at 7:30pm and Sun Dec 18 at 4pm Tickets: http://18thandunion.org By phone : 866-811-4111. ( Reasonable Parking situation)