Jeff Smith 12:01 p.m., March 29
The Tallest Tree in the Forest
Daniel Beaty's one-person drama recounts the life of the great Paul Robeson, singer, actor, activist. The two-hour piece needs refinements, but not Beaty's extraordinary performance. He sings with an ocean deep baritone, creates countless people on the spot, including both sides of a dialogue, and carries himself in Robeson's formal, declamatory manner - a tad stiff and gestural - by design. A tour de force but, odd to say, almost too much of one. There are few breaks for spectators. Four musicians accompany Beaty's stirring renditions of "Ol Man River" and 13 other songs (all made crystal clear by Lindsay Jones' excellent sound design). With revisions, the world premiere could be worthy of Robeson, a titan - the "tallest tree" - whose fall became the stuff of tragedy.
Worth a try.
- Cost: $15 - $52 | Buy tickets
- Age limit: 18+
When: Ongoing until Sunday, November 3, 2013
- Sundays, 2pm & 7pm
- Tuesdays, 7:30pm
- Wednesdays, 7:30pm
- Thursdays, 8pm
- Fridays, 8pm
- Saturdays, 2pm & 8pm
- "The Tallest Tree in the Forest at La Jolla Playhouse" (Oct. 21, 2013)