One-man shows are a dicey proposition, often riding on the charisma and talent of the actor on stage to make up for a meandering script or dull staging. What a pleasure it is, then, to experience a one-person play featuring an excellent script, an engaging performance and a spare but very effective use of the stage.
Invisible Atom, created and performed by Anthony Black of 2b Theatre Company, is the story of Atom, a young Wall Street financier whose world comes apart when a terrorist attack wipes out his office and every last one of his colleagues (except for Big Dan). Atom is suffering from a crisis of conscience, but that initial crisis is only the first small crack in the surface of his charmed life. Pretty soon the cracks are ramifying everywhere, from nuclear physics to economics to world history and the vexed question of his own paternity.
What does it mean, Atom wonders, when every action an individual takes can do no more than push history along on its terrible destructive course? What kind of life can one live when simply providing for your family is tipping the world over into destruction? Fortunately, the play always pins these large questions to the details of Atom’s life – his infant son Abraham, his physicist wife and his incredibly comfortable sofa. This is probably the first time I’ve seen a one-man play that owes a serious debt to Don DeLillo and Updike’s Rabbit novels.
Black is an excellent performer, with a nimble face capable of shifting rapidly between characters. He makes the most of a severely limited space, restricting the action to an area barely exceeding his outstretched hands. A small riser in front of him serves a miniature stage, where he acts out crucial points of the story with his fingers (it’s hard to describe). The sound and lighting design are excellent as well, and Black steps confidently in and out of shadow as he delivers his increasingly frantic and despairing monologue.
Invisible Atom is playing as part of the Schumiatcher Sandbox series at Regina’s Globe Theatre from September 22-26. Showtime is 7:30 pm. For more information about the play and to buy tickets online, visit the Globe Theare web site.