Sunday, October 23, 2011

Don Reed: "The Kipling Hotel" ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

Whether he's a young waiter serving breakfast to the elderly, or a developmentally challenged friend in a bar, or his uncle in prison, or E.T., or dozens of other characters whose identity he assumes during his new show "The Kipling Hotel," Don Reed crawls into the faces of each character and becomes them. His own face must be made out of silly putty.

As part of the autobiographical arc that began with Reed's previous solo show "East Fourteenth Street," the Oakland native takes us through his beginnings in show business, starting with his acceptance into UCLA on a partial scholarship ("what partial scholarship means is 'not enough f___ing money"), through his attempts to find a place to live (ending up with his brother's friend T ("a tall, black squirrel on coke"), and into his discovery of a live-in job at the retirement hotel that is the title of the show. The elderly residents of the hotel, as well as the staff, become Reed's principle characters.

Got to love his boss with the flip curl.

The show is brand new and is bound to change a lot -- though all of the bits are funny, there is a little too much reliance on partying right now. His reflections at the end seem a bit forced after all that, but wouldn't if they were mixed in more organically with the story.

Reed flows in and out of character with a rub of his shaved head. His impressions are so effective that we stay with them longer than he does. If he didn't do the rub to show us he had left the previous character we might not realize it. We loved Michael Jackson's shades and the yellow Opal that wouldn't go into reverse.

Right now the show is very funny with not a lot of depth, but like George, one of the hotel residents, said to Reed: "you're a mensch." He is. It's all there, he's just got to put it all together. Nobody else can write lines like:

"Ungawa! Black powa! Yo mama didn't take no showa!"

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards Don Reed's "The Kipling Hotel" Three Stars with a BANGLE OF PRAISE for E.T. How DO you make your face do that?

We predict that this will be a four star show very soon. Right now it's a fun night at the theater and you walk out laughing and repeating the jokes.

Don Reed: "The Kipling Hotel"
The Marsh
1062 Valencia Street, San Francisco
EXTENDED Through Dec 18

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