BWW Reviews: THE IMMORTAL JELLYFISH and SHRIMP AND GRIOTS Premiere at FallFRINGE
Written By: Jennifer Perry for broadwayworld.com
Conceiver/actor Sheldon Scott regales us with several stories about growing up in the low country of South Carolina – a young African American who was raised by a caring, single mother in a mobile home, always wanted to entertain, and was not necessarily like the other kids in his community. It’s essentially one of those well-worn tales of a search for self-identity and acceptance – a story of a gay man growing up in the South which ends with his mother accepting his sexual orientation.
It’s impossible to criticize the contents of Scott’s story because it is his own, but as an audience member it was difficult to find much of anything interesting about him that would have the makings of a good solo piece. This unfortunate situation becomes further complicated by the fact that his delivery of his own material is so dry and seemingly over or under-rehearsed depending on the point in the script. As he meanders around the stage – sometimes finding his light and sometimes not, while backed by a curious and perhaps unnecessary projection of the outline of a person – he shares several stories.
Although there is a tie between the first story and the last (his sexual orientation), they are presented in such a way where there’s little to no arc. Random references to his love for cars, his winning of a high school pageant, a meeting with his estranged father, and some success at doing well on the SATs left me wondering why all of that matters to my understanding of who he is. More to the point, I wondered why he needed to share any of these stories with us other than as a form of personal therapy, self-exploration, or reminiscing.
Perhaps with some dramaturgical help and some improvement in the acting area, Scott may have something to work with, but he has a long, long way to go.