Too much Angst,
K. Brian Neel’s solo performance world premier The Luring Well, opened at 18th and Union this weekend. Termed a “Ukele Horror Song Cycle,” in which “Two Midwest kids discover a bottomless well in the woods and proceed to throw bad things into it: a feral cat, a menacing bully, a cruel teacher, a true love” had its merits but was just too ängstlich (full of angst) for me.
K. Brian Neel, one of Seattle’s gems, is a virtuoso performer, able to turn the Ukele into a symphonic instrument; his fingering is THAT good. Unfortunately his dark material was not lightened up with any humor or very much wit. Also for songs which had a clear narrative, his diction was indistinct and the words were difficult to understand, even in the third row.
Having read several very bleak prison memoirs, what has always struck me was how the authors keep the readers turning the pages, by inserting humor into almost every paragraph. For example, the chapters in Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, dealing with his imprisonment on Robben Island were chocked full of humor, as was Schindler’s List. In The Luring Well, the depressing material, accompanied by mournful tunes, was relentless; I felt that the audience needed some comic relief.
The encore songs, which were much more upbeat, helped to redeem the show.
However, many people in the audience seemed to like the show, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Before the show, there is an awesome exhibition of prints by the Artistic Director’s Great-uncle Morti Gassner, in the lobby.
The Luring Well. Written and performed by K. Brian Neel. 18th and Union. 1806 18th Ave, Seattle, 98122. (Corner of 18th and Union, Central District). Sat 9/22 and Mon 9/24 8 pm. Tickets:https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/998641. Info: 18th & Union