On Jan. 31st, former North Carolina resident Joe Brack made a second triumphant return to Common Ground Theatre in Durham, NC — the first was his hilarious performance as David/Crumpet in The SantaLand Diaries in December 2006 — performing in a nifty new show entitled My Princess Bride, which he conceived and performs solo, much to the audience’s delight. Instead of sitting in the seat of the scornful and passing judgment on the employees and visitors to Macy’s SantaLand, as he did in The SantaLand Diaries, Brack assumes the angst-ridden personality of his pimply and painfully shy adolescent self — a real dweeb — and reminisces about how he escaped the cruel taunts of his hipper peers by withdrawing to his bedroom and immersing himself in his favorite fantasy adventure novels, especially The Princess Bride (1973) and its celebrated 1987 film adaptation.
Soon, Brack is joyously reenacting his favorite book, scene by scene, in a pixilated performance during which he smoothly segues from the intrepid farmboy Westley and his boyhood crush, the plucky farmgirl Buttercup, as they come of age in a fictional country named Florin, ruled by the insufferable Prince Humperdinck, who soon falls in lust with Buttercup and will stop at nothing to make her his bride. Brack also strikes all the right poses and adopts all the right accents to play the odious Humperdinck, the Dread Pirate Roberts who shanghaies Westley, a sawed-off evil Sicilian crime boss named Vizzini, a genial Turkish giant named Fezzik, a Spanish swordsman with a hair-trigger temper named Inigo Montoya, and a mysterious Man in Black who gives chase when Vizzini, Fezzik, and Montoya kidnap Buttercup on the eve of her nuptials.
Joe Brack holds the Common Ground audience spellbound as he narrates Westley and Buttercup’s breatheless adventures as they scale the Cliffs of Insanity and gingerly navigate the Fire Swamp. But it is their perils in the castle and dungeons of Prince Humperdinck — after the Man in Black thwarts the kidnappers and returns Buttercup to Florin — that Brack paints most vividly.
The method in Brack’s madness is that he — as teenaged Joey Brack — gradually learns tricks to keep his high school tormenters at bay. With the persistence of Westley, the spunk of Buttercup, the swagger of Inigo Montoya, and the irrepressible humor of author William Goldman, Joe Brack is able to vanquish — or at least lessen — his anxieties and entertain his former schoolyard adversaries. Bravo!
SECOND OPINION: Feb. 6th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Zack Smith (who awarded the show 3 of 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/former-raleigh-resident-joe-bracks-my-princess-bride/Content?oid=3268778; and Feb. 1st Durham, NC Five Points Star review by Kate Dobbs Ariail: http://thefivepointsstar.com/2013/02/01/modern-romance-at-common-ground-theatre-in-my-princess-bride/.
City Artistic Partnerships presents MY PRINCESS BRIDE, a one-man show conceived and performed by Joe Brack at 8 p.m. Feb. 14 and 16 and 2 p.m. Feb. 17 at Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Rd., Durham, North Carolina 27705.
BOX OFFICE: email@example.com or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/313995.
SHOW: http://cityartisticpartnerships.org/cap/ (official website) and https://www.facebook.com/MyPrincessBride (Facebook).
The Princess Bride (1973 novel): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Princess_Bride (Wikipedia).
The Novel: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Novelist William Goldman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Goldman (Wikipedia).
The Princess Bride (1987 film): http://princessbrideforever.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Princess_Bride_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).
Playwright/Performer Joe Brack: http://joebrack.weebly.com/ (official website) and https://www.facebook.com/joe.brack (Facebook).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Review, a FREE weekly e-mail arts newsletter. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Review.
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