It’s not a coincidence that so many solo performers touch on isolation in the stories they tell. These are individuals who, more often than not, had the spotlight shined on them in some way before they ever stepped onstage, and often not for the right reasons.
For Sheldon Scott, growing up black and gay in the South was isolating. But his laid-back smile and naturally dry, patient humor lend an air of studied calm to Shrimp & Griots, his solo show at fallFRINGE this month. So much calm, in fact, that the show perhaps ends up a little too cool to the touch.
In personality terms, Scott’s not a firecracker — his reserved delivery borders on the laconic throughout — but a compelling overarching narrative never emerges either. The show is entertaining as light fare, but with some more development could make for a heartier meal. Based on the stories he includes in this set, that’s something we’d like to see.
Shrimp & Griots is not overtly a reclaiming of labels, or a dissection of what made being young difficult. It’s simpler, more casual, and more relaxed than anything like that. This is Scott sitting on a stool and telling a few stories about growing up that, while amusing, float up into the dark like smoke rings and never come back.
Shrimp & Griots
Closes November 16, 2013
Part of fallFRINGE 2013
607 New York Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001
Tickets: $15 – $20
Saturdays and Sundays
Details and Tickets
What Scott might add to spice up the existing mix is up to him. We already get a nice variety of stories of Southern community, childhood showmanship, life in a mobile home, growing up as a lover of cars, embarrassing tales of home repair, moving from North Carolina into DC… Scott holds our attention and keeps us smiling during these brief anecdotes. A couple of tales touch on being gay. Plenty don’t. There’s a nice sense of surprise in what he’ll bring up next.
The real breadcrumb here may be a story Scott tells about winning a popularity contest at school through sheer willpower and charm. The memorable closing image of that story leaves Scott, dressed in a tuxedo with a crown on his head, staying after the celebration in the school’s auditorium cleaning up alongside his mother, the custodian. Such a rich juxtaposition, even simply stated, leaves us with much to ruminate on. Scott has shared with us the moment he looks back on warmly. Now, perhaps, he can think of letting us in on some harder truths.
Shrimp & Griots . Created and performed by Sheldon Scott . Directed by Nancy Camp . Presented as part of fallFRINGE 2013 . Reviewed by Hunter Styles.