Kiss Your Brutal Hands, though billed as a solo show is really two solo shows in one seating. And, though it is difficult to draw a clear correlation or true connection between the two shows, other than to say both plays explore the crumbling of psyches and crisis of faith through their individual protagonists, there is no doubt that writer and actor, Jim Shankman, is a exceptionally energetic and masterful performer.
In the first act, Shankman brings to life Izzy, an over-wrought, emotional disaster of an ad man on the brink of financial and personal ruin. Shankman lets us bear witness to the final rupture of a man’s worldly and spiritual self as he bounces between phone calls to the various people who torment him and conversations with his father who is “in the room”. Though we are never really given to understand the true catalyst of Izzy’s internal drama, the focus and emotional energy that Shankman brings to the character is a rare and exceptional thing to witness.
Just when you didn’t think that an actor could possibly have an ounce of energy left to give, Shankman changes costume, sets and characters. Now he is Danny, a mentally ill man living in Tompkins Square Park. Danny is off his meds, hyper, anxiety ridden and vacillating between lucidity and the imaginary worlds he creates to protect himself. He is the picture of social and sexual depravity and it is both thrilling and exhausting to experience Shankman’s portrayal of Danny’s off kilter world.
Kiss Your Brutal Hands is directed by Craig J. George.
Performances of Kiss Your Brutal Hands continue through August 22 as part of the New York International Fringe Festival. For more on FringeNYC shows, click here.
Through August 22 at 64E4 Underground.