Brain Copeland is stepping out in his new one-man show "The Scion," which is having its World Premiere at the Marsh San Francisco. Copeland is trying to balance on the knife-edge between comedy and tragedy. With the assistance of long-time director David Ford sometimes his blade is sharp, but sometimes it is just plain dull.
There are really two shows going on. When Copeland is in character as himself, ranting about the effect that privilege has upon the people who wield it as well as those who don't, including George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, he is funny and insightful. But when he attempts to act out the characters in a real-world murder case that took place in San Leandro in the year 2000, the show slows to a halt. Brian as Brian narrating the whole thing would have us on the edge of our chairs. But his voicings of the actual testimonies of witnesses in the trial are tedious and not very entertaining.
The problem is simple: we care about Brian Copeland. He's our pal, we know him and his entire family from his earlier shows. He shows us our follies and allows us to laugh about them. But we don't care much about the three USDA inspectors murdered by a privileged psychopath, we don't care how many children they had and we don't have any feelings one way or the other about the psychopath himself except that he's crazy. His guilt and conviction are a matter of record so there are no suprises. This leads Copeland into moralizing and moralizing is not all that funny.
He's correct about "Rules are for everyone, yeah, right." He asks the right questions, such as who gets the benefit of the doubt and who is inherently suspicious? How are we to decide who is dangerous and who will protect us? These are issues with which society is not dealing very well.
Copeland is also right about the windshield and the bug. It's a great metaphor to end the show.
RATINGS: ☼ ☼
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards Brian Copeland's "The Scion" Two Stars at this point, which is below the Julie Andrews Line (see right sidebar for explanation of ratings). The show is new and feels it. Brian Copeland has raised his own bar very high. We have gotten used to seamless adventure with "The Jewelry Box," "The Waiting Period" and "Not a Genuine Black Man." But those shows have become aristocracy. "The Scion" is still just a kid.
Brian Copeland: "The Scion"
1062 Valencia Street, San Francisco
Thu-Sat through March 1