Welcome “Guest Artist” at Clifton Players

Review by Liz Eichler of Guest Artist: Clifton Performance Theatre

Jeff Daniel’s Guest Artist will definitely hit home with theatre people, and anyone who has confronted their idol to see that he or she is made of flesh. Guest Artist is the story of an aspiring playwright/intern sent to pick up his idol from the bus station and take him to the regional theatre, but the visiting Pulitzer Prize winner doesn’t make the task as easy as it sounds.

This struck a chord, putting me back into my undergrad experience, where one of our professors was both admired, feared, and awed. Most students kept him at a distance, until you we let into his inner circle. He would then wax poetic about life, but eventually share his hurt and anger about the world and his circumstances. So much like the character Joseph Harris, played by Daniel Britt. Britt captures the power of a man, commanding both fear and pathos. Carter Bratton as Kenneth Waters shows admiration and optimism, in his struggles to control the situation. There was something missing, perhaps lost on the intimate space, that shows the solitude of them in that bus station. Perhaps the dynamic would also be different, more electric, if there was more of an age difference between the two performers.

Michael Bath is hysterical as the ticket man. He mines every word and look for humor, as he observes from his barred-off office, much like an audience, observing but disconnected with the world outside.

Director Kate Wilford moves the play along on a good pace, except where the script tends to be overwritten. Guest Artist has strength, some humor, some great reflection on our world. The working clocks on stage let you watch the time pass (it is a bus station, after all), as well as underline some themes: stand up, grab your time, be proud of what you do, don’t ask for forgiveness. The show runs through October 7 at Clifton Performance Theatre.  Tickets can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com.

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