BOTTOM LINE: Actor and playwright Pat Kinevane gives a brilliant, versatile performance that most actors can only dream of in this Japanese-influenced Irish one-man show Forgotten.
Pat Kinevane is an actor's actor. As the sole performer and writer of the Irish Center's newest transplant Forgotten, Kinevane embodies four eccentric and lovably neurotic nursing home residents from Ireland with the polish and precision of a classically trained actor, the grace, poise and control of a Kabuki master, and the dry, sharp humor (not to mention drag queen stylings) of Eddie Izzard. Needless to say, he is living proof that all you need to create great theater is great acting.
With a minimal set, few props and in nothing more than a loin cloth (with the occasional scarf or headpiece), Kinevane uses his voice and physicality to create the world of the play. He mixes traditional theatrical devices (breaking the fourth wall and playing to the audience, for example) with the non-traditional: to transform from one character to the next, Kinevane uses Kabuki – a stylized Japanese dance-drama – which somehow helps bring to life the Irish nursing homes and their inhabitants. To see him move with such control and precision in between monologues is a stark contrast from the physicality that he uses as the characters, though they, too, are as equally specific (in particular, the man who has suffered a stroke).
It is with this specificity of both movement and voice for each character that Kinevane is able to personify the different stages of reflection upon one's last 100 years: there is the one who carries on, business as usual; the one who has become a virtual vegetable; the one in denial, living out their own delusional fairytale (because why not when you're 92?); and the one still living in the past who is longing for a do-over. While growing old and starting to forget is a fact of life, Kinevane's haunting portrayal of the two women and two men he brings to life are a reminder that memories – no matter how diluted – live on.
The harsh Irish grit (the accents and the blunt language) married with dance-drama Kabuki and other Japanese influenced elements (think traditional Japanese music and lighting – two other aspects of the performance that work successfully) somehow fit perfectly together. Even if modern dance and Irish plays aren't topping your list of favorite genres, you can still take something away from this one-man show. Kinevane makes certain to hit every note – from sentimental to heartbreaking to hilariously crass – and leaves nothing to be desired. I highly advise stepping out of your theater comfort zone and seeing Forgotten in its limited run so that you have the opportunity to witness a brilliant, versatile performance by Pat Kinevane that most actors can only dream of doing.
(Forgotten performs at Donaghy Theatre at the Irish Arts Center, 553 West 51st Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues, through Sunday, March 7th. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 8:00pm; and Sunday at 3:00pm. Tickets are $38 and are available by calling SmartTix at 212.868.4444 or by visiting www.smarttix.com. Get $25 tickets with code TXTC25.)