nytheatre.com review by Chris Toland
I must admit I developed a bit of a
sinking feeling as I waited for Mark Kilmurry’s One Shot to
begin, knowing only that it had something to do with Robert DeNiro. I
have long felt that too many actors today are obsessed with the American
cinema of the 1970s. Don’t get me wrong. Without question, many of the
films from this period are among the greatest ever made. But I prefer to
see new visions brought to life, rather than poor attempts to rehash
greatness from thirty years ago.
August 15, 2003
Imagine my relief, then, to discover that Kilmurry’s fast-paced and disturbing play is no such attempt, but instead an argument against obsession with these films, and in this case with DeNiro. To say the least.
One Shot is a chilling portrait of Charlie Murray, the personification of fan obsession with a fuse as short as a character you’d expect his idol to have played. His only friend seems to be Bobby himself (DeNiro, that is), to whom the play is a dictated letter. Charlie feels compelled to explain his actions involving Marie, a young woman who has briefly shared his appreciation of Bobby’s work (as an amateur, of course), and Ian Fisher, a television actor—a bad one, Charlie informs us—who has had the audacity to steal some of Bobby’s mannerisms. Ian has apparently stepped in to protect Marie from Charlie’s stalking. Charlie works hard to justify his behavior, often employing scenes from DeNiro’s films to relate a point.
Mark Kilmurry is a very smart actor. Poorly portrayed craziness is the worst of bad acting, and One Shot would be doomed in the hands of an actor without Kilmurry’s skill. His performance is controlled, committed, and always eerily natural. To portray such a complicated character all alone on stage is no small feat, and Kilmurry more than meets the challenge. The high-intensity pace he sets—he has directed himself—is intoxicating. It’s fast, but never rushed. With simple but effective lighting and music, he breaks up the dialogue, giving us a few seconds here and there to catch up. Some non-verbal moments work better than others. Charlie’s repeated attempts to look cool smoking a cigarette are fantastic, but a semi-slow-motion pantomime of a brawl that occurs after Charlie becomes violent with Marie looks a little odd. Overall, One Shot is a compelling character study with first-rate acting that is worthy of attention. Just don’t become obsessed.