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.
Notable NYC: 2/24–3/2
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