Directed by Ted Wold
Performed by Brandon Simmons
Reviewed Performance 3/11/2014
Reviewed by Richard Blake, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Falling Man examines the lives of a diverse group of gay men from various backgrounds: a former drag queen, a young hustler who is taken over by the spirit of Tennessee Williams, the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer, and a former cha-cha champion who just wants to be remembered.
In another one-man performance at this year’s festival, you are entertained by Brandon Simmons and a fifty-minute collage of four independent monologues. At first I was wondering how they would all tie together, but as the play progressed, it became clear to me... with love. Love of another, love of oneself, the search for love and the desire to be loved and not forgotten.
I must say, the writing in this piece is remarkable. Author Will Scheffer shows style, skill and grace in his words with each character he has created. You are drawn into each one’s story with concern, compassion and at times, humor. Some of the stories are difficult to listen to, but as they deal with content people don’t want to hear, this author has proven his point... LISTEN to these stories and don’t ignore them.
In dealing with a young man who “used to be very gay drag queen”, telling his story of attempted suicide only to be saved by another drag queen, the ending of the story is on one word... beautiful. The heart-wrenching story still has humor, placed appropriately, but doesn’t convolute the message...love.
Another story tells of a young, gay, street hustler who suddenly seems to be “possessed” by the recently deceased, overtly gay author, Tennessee Williams. The very unique writing in this story is wonderfully done, forcing Simmons to voice multiple people in different scenarios. The character’s arc is expertly crafted and comes to another splendidly surprising moment of self-discovery... love.
Now I have to admit I had NO clue how the story dealing with a “Breakfast with Jeffrey Dahmer” was going to have any merit or common thread after seeing the previous two’ Color me surprised when, by the end, it was perfectly clear. Trust me, I was admittedly put aback watching Simmons “cooking” onstage and stirring pots while performing, but actually had my moral values challenged as I listened to the arguments presented, again coming to a spectacular common conclusion...love.
The concluding story of the evening is the most poignant, moving and, at the same time, uplifting piece of writing I have come across in a long time. The premise itself has a bit of a twist, but Scheffer outdoes himself in creating a vibrantly worded, highly descriptive story dealing with a “World Class Award-Winning Dancer”. You are completely engaged in the writing and waiting for the next words to be spoken. I witnessed a young man suddenly lean forward in his seat, head in his hands, so involved in the story nothing was going to pull him away from it. That’s a true testament to exemplary writing, which again, ends with the purest of human emotion...love.
The star of this exquisitely written piece is Brandon Simmons, a highly acclaimed young DFW Actor who takes the stage with zeal and conviction, creating four vastly independent characters, all with stories to tell. This young man uses multiple voices, personalities, body stances and facial expressions in every different monologue. Only very simple additions and/or subtractions in costuming assist him in character creation; ultimately it is his extraordinary talent providing the rest of the illusion. He impresses me with his talent, professionalism, interpretation and presentation. It’s no wonder he has performed in the areas’ largest and highest acclaimed theatres... his talent deserves it and this production, although in the small Stone Cottage Theatre DEFINITELY showcases it. Bravo Mr. Simmons...BRAVO !!
Final performances on Saturday, March 15th at 2:00 pm