Bang! The Curse of John Wilkes Booth

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Bang! The Curse of John Wilkes Booth
Photograph: Georgy Koury

Forget the supposed “curse of John Wilkes Booth”: The only curses of import at Bang! are the ones you’ll mutter under your breath while waiting for Scott Baker’s egregiously self-indulgent solo to end. That doesn’t happen a moment too soon: Not shy about overstuffing the ham, Baker’s 80-minute look at Lincoln’s assassin includes three extended death scenes as well as a shabby grab bag of tall tales, hoary jokes, birthday-party magic and grimacing impressions of country bumpkins. The shaggy-voiced actor begins by impersonating Booth in rhyming verse, then abandons that conceit after 15 minutes to focus on rambling crackpot conjectures about whether Booth escaped and lived for decades under an assumed name. This truther-style “conspiracy that reached the highest levels of government” is not just obviously bunkum; it is also haphazardly dramatized. But what really dragged this one-man show down to one-star depths, for me, was the photographer (hired or permitted by Baker) who sat in front row and clicked away loudly throughout the play, taking hundreds of pictures and shattering whatever bond Bang! might possibly have made with its audience. Even at a show about John Wilkes Booth, there’s no excuse for that much shooting in a theater. (Visit our Fringe Festival page for more reviews, and for more information.)—Adam Feldman


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