And now, we reprint without permission the review from Bill Davis of the Charleston City Paper:
The Best of National No Shame Theatre
June 3-5, 9-12 at 9:30 p.m.
June 4, 5, 11, 12 at 3:30 p.m.
$12 evenings, $10 matinees
54 St. Philip St.
554-6060Frivolous shoes mar the performance of No Shame Theatre
Shoes are important.
Many of the performers in Thursday night’s performance of The Best of National No Shame didn’t wear shoes. They wore flip-flops, sandals, or Tevas.
Sandals, like gum, need to be left backstage. Onstage, they bespeak of a lack of seriousness, and a bounty of unprofessionalism.
Many of the scenes in Thursday night’s show were performed by people wearing frivolous shoes.
Sure, there were a couple of winners, especially a show-ending song about a woman being left to walk a lonesome highway of love on her own. And there was a really fun bluesy tune about a man dying to spend his last five dollars — performed by a man wearing socks and sandals.
At least they were black socks.
“Goth illusionist” Nelson Oliver returned and presented a really cool trick where he swallowed a long, inflated clown’s balloon and shat out a purple balloon poodle. And he did so without a prompt sheet or exposed toes. Huzzah!
Otherwise, most of the pieces were masturbatory — and not in the good way.
No Shame founder Todd Ristau hosted the evening in a garish red suit, purposely worse than the one he wore last year. He began the night on a darkened stage illuminated with only a hand-held flashlight, performing a solo piece about masturbation that he presented throughout last year’s festival.
Despite having written the piece nearly 20 years ago, Ristau read many of his lines off a sheet of paper. He should have no excuse for not having memorized his own writing, especially since he’s a drama professor at a Virginia college who’s had a play produced in London’s West End theatre district.
When asked after the show why he still wasn’t off-book, Ristau offered the following excuse:
“I could be if I wanted to, but when I wrote it I was trying to see how it would look on stage to shine a flashlight off a sheet of paper. A lot of stuff you see here isn’t writers trying to turn out great pieces of dramatic literature, but actors posing challenges to themselves and writing for it.”
I like Ristau and will likely perform some of my own misbegotten pieces later in the festival (or not, depending on how he reacts to this pan).
Many of the other pieces performed were repeats from last year’s “not best of” offerings, including a spirited love poem by Robb Rouse, who took to the black box’s stage ... in Tevas ... with a copy of the poem in hand.
This is definitely a show for actors and not for audience members. There’s got to be more “best” to their best of show to warrant attending.
Ristau, who hands out free tickets to future No Shame showings, says that ticket sales aren’t such a big deal this year because the group had such success fund-raising before they came.
So go in with lowered expectations — no, lower; remember they aren’t worried about ticket sales — and you won’t be disappointed.
Or maybe you’ll be amazed, as each night they’ll be performing a brand new slew of five-minute scenes.