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“Wonderful off-off Broadway theater: "Naked Darrow"”

The Drilling Company
Reviewed June 15, 2013

Here is a gem of a play, about the legendary attorney Clarence Darrow. It is his soul which is stripped naked here - he is fully clothed! (Just to clarify for anyone mis-perceiving the title.)

This is a one-month (June 2013) limited engagement, performed and written by actor/playwright Gary Anderson, who hails from the River District Theatre in Wisconsin, where he is artistic director.

What a treat, especially for anyone with some familiarity with Darrow's place in history. Known to many as the attorney from the Scopes Monkey Trial, here is an intimate look at the 'naked' soul of Darrow, as he reflects and reminisces upon his past trials and tribulations, as his memory begins to fragment and cloud. He makes clear that the Monkey Trial was but a small ripple in his overall stream of accomplishments, as he proudly recounts the moral and legal successes which directly impacted people's lives. As he shares memories and flashbacks of various events in his personal and professional life, Darrow (Anderson) occasionally reverts to past conversations with wives and lovers, friends and foes. With passion, humility, and dry wit.

Comparisons have been made to Hal Holbrook's depiction of Mark Twain. Yes, Anderson is that good at inhabiting the heart and soul of his character. And it is more than acting a script - the actor also researched and wrote the script. This labor of love became a riveting one-man show. Gary Anderson (actor/playwright) immersed himself in the literature about Darrow to a level where he could truly grasp the 'naked' Darrow soul, by way of highlighting principles, moral dilemmas, public adoration and hatred, and Darrow's highs and lows as a public figure, as both plaintif and defendant. As well as his balancing acts with wives and women. (It's much more about his moral and personal life than legalese or the Monkey trial.)

Following the play (which has matinees on Wednesday and Saturdays through June), Gary Anderson remained on the tiny stage of this very intimate theater, and fielded questions about the play, Darrow, his experience staging and acting this, and more. He even reflected on some of the questions he's been asked in prior performances. Not your typical play, nor actor/playwright!

It should be mentioned that this tiny, intimate theater is housed on the 3rd floor of a nondescript New York residential-looking building. No elevator, so 'accessibility' may be an issue for anyone unable to walk up stairs. The 'payoff' is the quaint and personable theater and friendly staff. There are restrooms, but don't look for popcorn. This is entirely about the play (1 1/2 hours, no intermission). A positive about the location is... well, the location! A short walk from Columbus Avenue's 'restaurant row', the American Museum of Natural History, and Central Park.

Tickets: You'll need to act quickly, as this runs only through the end of June. It's a tiny theater but tickets are still available - at the door or via www.SmartTix.com (212-868-4444) - $25/ticket (truly a bargain by NYC theater price standards), with discounts from TDF or $5 off using code 5OFF.

Highly recommended, a rare and fascinating glimpse of history courtesy of an engaging and passionate playwright/actor with a story worth sharing, especially for those interested in history, law, ethics, relationships, and the interaction.

Date of experience: June 2013
8  Thank drmikenyc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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