FringeNYC 2001 Reviews #7
Jim Carroll's The Basketball Diaries by Pascal Ulli
actor Pascal Ulli has adapted Jim Carroll’s autobiographical
novel, The Basketball Diaries, into a solo showcase
for himself. Considering Ulli’s affinity for method acting
(which he details extensively in his program bio), Carroll’s
book—which chronicles the author’s coming-of-age as a basketball
player, male hustler, drug addict, and budding writer on
the mean streets of 1960s New York—seems like properly intense
material for him. Unfortunately, what would seem to be a
perfect fit for both Ulli and the text turns out to need
a few alterations after all.
main obstacle is the form itself. One-person shows are basically
long speeches, but their success rests solely on being thought
of by the actor as a full-length, two-person scene between
the speaker and the listener, who may be an imaginary offstage
figure on the audience themselves. The speaker’s need to
tell his or her story to the listener, and his or her reasons
for telling it to that particular person, are what drive
a one-person show forward. Ulli hinders himself by not clarifying
enough for himself who his listener is, or what they mean
to him. By doing so, he prevents himself from fully expressing
why his character needs to tell his story, and why the audience
should even listen to it.
also has a language barrier to overcome. English is obviously not his first language,
even though he is functionally fluent and is always completely understandable.
But, he hasn’t yet reached a level of comfort or mastery that allows him to deploy
a multitude of inflections and other vocal nuances that would not only give more
meaning to what he’s saying and make it sound like he knows what he’s talking
about, but would also help him (and, in turn, the audience) connect emotionally
even more to the material. Right now, it just feels like he’s reciting his lines,
but he should settle into a more comfortable groove the more he performs the show.
The original review was found at http://www.nytheatre.com/nytheatre/fringe_r07.htm
© 2001 The New York Theatre Experience, Inc.