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Lary Litt

"Mark Twain's Last Stand"

"Mark Twain's Last Stand"
Written & Performed by Alan Kitty
Directed by Charles Messina
Kraine Theatre
85 East 4th St., NYC
Reviewed May 9, 2010

If Mark Twain is running for United States President then this one man play, starring very capable Twain interpreter Alan Kitty, is his stump speech for us undecided voters. Looking very much like Twain, including his twinkling eyes, Kitty tours us around the mind of a professional storyteller whose uncompromising wit rises to every occasion. Kitty's Twain is reminding us that Americans always enjoyed a good story well told in the English tradition. At one point Kitty makes it clear that Twain knew his stories were derivative, but the speakers take and tone are the attraction.

Kitty's explanation of Twain's famous story "Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" went on too long and didn't add anything to the character. Kitty falls short when he tries to portray Twain's politics. Twain hated politicians, thought them duplicitous fools only out to enrich themselves. Kitty attempts to bring Twain's politics into the 21st century with a comment on President Obama's family which doesn't work. A storyteller needs to create anecdotes that point out some unmistakable characteristic about his subject. If a performer is going to attempt political satire or humor it better be both pointed and topical. Just topical isn't enough.

I expected belly laughs from this show which I didn't get. Instead I experienced enough grins, chuckles and knowing smiles to make it a worthwhile visit.

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