Silence of Lucky
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
July 21, 2008
Silence of Lucky is like a standup comedy routine with a little heart and soul thrown in. Writer/performer David Lee Nelson is certainly talented, versatile, and sometimes funny but his comedy brings nothing new or particularly insightful to the stage.
He begins the show with what I took to be his standup comedian character, who is painfully shy and just manages to stutter out some observational humor. He moves from this character to others that I took to be more like him. He delivers a short speech on the anguish of being a White Sox fan. He reminisces about an embarrassing Halloween moment and the time his father decided the family deserved to have wall-to-wall white carpeting in their house. It is in these moments of reminiscing that he injects the heart and soul of the performance. There are also several short videos of Nelson kicking back on his couch while candidly talking about the nature of holidays or work. He is funnier, for reasons I can't explain, in the videos than he is live. Much of the hour-long performance is done on mic but I much preferred the times that he would step away from the mic and just talk to us.
The stories Nelson tells are filled with honesty and I think they are what make the show worthwhile, but they all struck me as underdeveloped. Nelson's script is very choppy. Just when I began to feel something for his characters, the story would end or diverge into something unrelated. Nelson has some very nice peaks and valleys in his performance but they could be even greater were he to let go and push his stories further into the heart of the matter. His comedy is mildly funny. I chuckled but I never really laughed. It's mostly observational humor that's been observed by other comedians many times before. Once again, I think it suffers from not going far enough.
His director, Adam Knight, does what he can to make the show more theatrical by placing Nelson all about the stage at various levels and with various moods of light. Lauren Duffie's lighting design, together with Knight's direction, is very effective at drawing you into show.
Nelson compares himself to some of the great monologists of our time such as Mike Daisey and Spalding Gray. He has quite a way to go before he is at the level of these master storytellers, but it's always good to set goals for yourself. Standup comedy has to be among the most difficult performances to pull off and it is so subjective. There may be many of you out there who will find Nelson more original and a lot funnier than I did.