BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW
Have you taken advantage yet of the $25 tickets to see plays at Signature Theatre’s handsome new Pershing Square Center?
It’s a relatively low price to catch what’s likely to be a classy show, since Signature’s artistic standards of production are so excellent. It’s also a pleasure to visit the company’s Frank Gehry-designed complex of three theaters linked by a nice lobby-café-lounge area.
Then again, some people undoubtedly will find $25 to be a huge waste of money as well as 70 lost minutes to sit through “Title and Deed,” which opened there on Sunday.
This new solo piece is written by Will Eno, whose “Thom Pain (based on nothing)” mesmerized some viewers and mystified others (including me) during its controversial Off Broadway stint in 2004. Then in 2010, Eno delivered “Middletown,” a truly beautiful play regarding human existence as detailed through deceptively everyday ways and talk that suggested post-modern Thornton Wilder.
“Title and Deed” finds the playwright back once more in “Thom Pain” monologue mode as an unnamed traveler drifts onstage to chat to the audience about his experiences “wandering in a wilderness of doubt” from one place to another.
Although the middle-aged man describes himself as having “one foot in the grave, the other in my mouth,” this rootless stranger somehow manages to gab quite a lot of cosmic this and existential that, which may be profound or maybe not in meaning. One thing for sure is that the writing often is lyrical but without the spine of a story, the meandering piece completely lacks drama.
As the stranger’s musings uneventfully wore on, I could not help but notice around me any number of spectators’ heads nodding. I suspect that their reaction was due more to drowsiness than indicating agreement with anything being expressed.