“My first boyfriend, when I was in Brazil—first ever, first everything—is now, I discovered, this sort of famous porn star. Like, he has a Wikipedia page under his new identity.”
During last year’s Fringe I had to be away on business so I could not partake as liberally as I would’ve liked. But I still haven’t forgotten Damaso Rodriguez’s production of William Nedved’s “Fact & Fiction,” incisively performed by Nedved and Adam Silver (who also impressed in “Nerve” a few months later). Great twists, artfully delivered.
Playwright William Nedved’s mind-bending pair of world-premiere, solo-actor works, skillfully directed by Dámaso Rodriguez, couldn’t be more aptly titled. In “Fact,” Nedved recounts his high school year spent as an exchange student in Brazil. In “Fiction,” actor Adam Silver expertly tempers suspense with humor in detailing his experiences as the stalking victim of a creepy filmmaker. With an enigmatic wink, these “autobiographical” stories leave one wondering what is reality and what may be imagined.
Like a great sleight-of-hand magician, playwright William Nedved leaves his audience wondering just what is real and what isn’t even after the “trick” has been revealed. In this highly-anticipated world premiere production directed by Damaso Rodriguez, two very different stories are told in two half-hour monologues.
Nedved himself takes the first shift, recounting his experiences as a high school foreign-exchange student in Brazil, mostly by simply reading his journal from that transformative year. It’s an entertaining, if innocuous story of his sexual awakening, but it leaves a viewer wondering, “Really? This is what theatre has come to? A guy can just read his diaries now and call it a show?”
Then comes Adam Silver, with his pitch-perfect delivery and timing and a Gene Wilder-esque grin, telling a far more unusual tale of being relentlessly and hilariously stalked cross-country by a would-be filmmaker. To reveal any more now would be a disservice both to Silver’s consummate charm as a performer and Nedved’s skill as a writer. It’s enough to say that this show is worth seeing once, maybe even twice to get the full effect.
Fact & Fiction sets out to do exactly what it intends. It blurs the line between truth and fiction, sometimes The first half, a first-hand personal account of a playwright’s adventures in South America at the age of 17 slowly starts to unfold as he reads from a journal that he kept while staying there. It’s part confessional and coming out story as told by William Nedved, a young exchange student in Brazil. Mostly read directly from his journal, plays out like a stand-up comedy routine. It feels unrehearsed and honest. The second portion of the show features Adam Silver playing Adam Silver. He narrates a near-harrowing experience that takes him from Chicago to Los Angeles. Stalked by an unnerving filmmaker in Chicago, they meet up again by chance on the Redline underneath the City of Angels. Events become more and more unrealistic, while Adam reassures us that, indeed, it is a true story – so true that it almost borders on fiction.
What is interesting about Sixth Avenue’s inaugural production is that it plays with an audience’s perception of what a play should be. This is not a passive show, as one must constantly ask, “What’s going on What’s the catch?” Well, the catch is that events as they occur are never what they seem in retrospect. There is one side and then there is the other, and both are neither right nor wrong. A memory is shaped by our emotional state at the time of the event and can really change over time. In the end, we’re left with questions rather than answers. Especially when the two completely unrelated events are contradicted at one point during the show.
Nedved’s performance, while seemingly unrehearsed and uncomfortable (he is a playwright and not an actor, after all) fits in perfectly with Silver’s polished monologue. In the end, these very simple narratives seep into our consciousness and leave us lost in thought.
Fringe festivals are always heavy on “my life so far” solo shows. And for its first half hour or so, playwright William Nedved’s “Fact and Fiction,” at the Elephant, looks like it’s going to be another one of these, a portrait of the artist as a Rotary Club high school exchange student in Brazil. But then Nedved finishes his story and leaves the stage, replaced by a second performer, Adam Silver, who has his own personal tale to tell, completely unrelated to Nedved’s. Or is it? Directed by Furious Theatre Company leader Damaso Rodriguez, “Fact and Fiction” cleverly turns the standard staged confessional on its head. And Silver is just a blast to watch.