IT'S not often that a theater performance stops me cold. But last week's Rodney King, a one-man-show by Roger Guenveur Smith at the Bootleg Theater left me both impressed and a little shaken up at the very least.
When I moved to LA in 1997, the city seemed like a sunny, youthful, high-spirited place after a few years in New England. But underneath the good times, there was a sense that I was living on the scene of a crime, one connected to an four-century old Original Sin.
A kind of scar seemed ripped through the city when I drove past the intersection of Florence and Normandie or along Olympic Blvd -- names I first heard in news broadcasts. Nineties LA was, for me, simultaneously hedonistic and haunted.
All this came back to me at the Bootleg the other night. I should not say anymore -- I'll add that while this was a one-man-show by most measures, the sound design and lighting were excellent and made the whole thing work, and the Bootleg is becoming one of my favorite venues in town.
I won't say anything else about his King performance, except to say that Smith was sparked to put it together by King's death on Father's Day.
I wrote about Smith here, last year. Here's hoping that several of his shows, including this powerful, painful Rodney King project, get return engagements.
A.J. Langguth, author and USC journalism professor was 81
56 minutes ago