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Pictures of Me, Actually
One of two plays being performed in rep under the title
Dan Bredermann - 1 Man in Rep

Theatre Review by Matthew Murray

The magic of Lewis Carroll's words has been delighting children and adults for over one hundred years through his immortal novels, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. An enchanting display of exactly the magic Carroll possessed is on display at the Producer's Circle II, where Dan Bredemann's play, Pictures of Me, Actually, is currently playing.

Though Pictures of Me, Actually is a one-man play, there is no need for anyone else on the stage. Bredemann portrays Carroll himself, imbuing him with every bit of wit, wisdom, and humor that comes across in his books. From the first moment he hurries onstage with a burst of nervous energy, to the final flourish of his delightful curtain call surprise, Bredemann is never anything but endearing and entertaining as Carroll. Carroll does impersonations of his family, tells jokes, dances, sings, and quotes from his works. He even explains how Alice Liddell and her sisters inspired Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Whatever he's doing, he always has a wonderful time with his audience.

The audience, however, changes over the course of the play. In the first act, which takes place early in Carroll's adult life, he is addressing a group of little girls. The way he speaks, stands, and moves reflects the inexperience, knowledge and lack of knowledge, and short attention span of his young listeners. When, in the second act, set fifteen years later, he is instead speaking to his colleague Reverend Duckworth, a more serious, thoughtful Carroll emerges. Bredemann handles all the transitions beautifully.

Be forewarned, though, that Bredemann and his director Alan Weitzman make use of the theater's intimate setting. He makes frequent eye contact with the audience, and occasional participation is not only expected, but required. Especially in the first act, expect to work a little. The effort, though, is ultimately well worth it. Carroll makes sure that everyone has fun, and learns something along the way.

Though the play never ceases to be entertaining or charming, perhaps the most impressive feat Bredemann and Weitzman achieve is in making the two acts, though incredibly different, work together. The difference in audience and tone of the two acts, complement each other nicely, and successfully tell the full story of Carroll's life. True, Carroll might not dance the Lobster Quadrille for Duckworth, but the character he reveals in the second act is every bit as engrossing as the one he reveals in the first. The way he discusses his friend, the actress Ellen Terry, or learns of the later events in Alice's life reveal a touching, human side the Carroll in the first act doesn't show his young friends.

Pictures of Me, Actually is a fascinating window into Carroll's life, and one that will shed a new light on the man for those who thought they knew him through his writings. Thanks to his books, the spirit of Lewis Carroll can never die, but it is hardly every day it appears onstage as well.

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Pictures of Me, Actually
one of two plays being performed in rep under the title
Dan Bredermann - 1 Man in Rep
Written and performed by Dan Bredemann
Directed by Alan Weitzman
Producers Circle II Theatre
616 Ninth Avenue
Reservations: (212) 279-4200
Through May 26