Reggie Watts | Tommy Smith Oct 16, 2009
by Tania Kupczak
There are times I wish I was clever enough to understand the cleverness of other people. I feel this way at times when I witness something I like, but don’t quite fully understand, like Ingmar Bergman... or the Scottish. Reggie Watts' collaboration with director and playwright Tommy Smith, Transition is very clever (not a put down), full of pop culture observations and references, pieces (I don’t want to call them sketches) on the alienation of social networks ("I have 2-300 friends on Facebook, and, maybe, 10 in real life!"), songs on racism, parodies of Shakespeare and the deadly seriousness of performance theater itself. I liked it, some parts more than others, but I can't say I understood everything.
Reggie Watts is a one-man variety show, a very talented comedian-singer-actor-musical artist, one of the original hyphenated men. Containing him totally in one simple, coherent piece is probably an impossibility. Tommy Smith has fashioned around Reggie's talent a show that doesn't try to contain, but showcase and highlight . Using monologues, video screens and other actors intertwined with Reggie's songs (I'm going to call them songs, but that’s pretty limiting) and comedy the show throws enough points and thoughts at the audience that it keeps moving, even while you keep wondering how it all connects. Yes, like all of humankind, I look for connections and patterns, the curves and knobby edges of the jigsaw that fit together seamlessly Transition mocked me, it was all seams.
I shouldn't have liked it. I sat, poised and ready to call forth my full on, theatre major, BFA wielding judgment to slice and dice it, point out the flaws, underline and yellow highlight jokes that fell flat and indulgences carried to the point of fetish. But I didn’t. I hardly used that expensive education once (about as much as my mother said I would), I just sat there and enjoyed the show, laughing at Reggie's Shakespearian monologue, his song on racism ("Racism only works when we all work together"), the scene of a couple (and one extra) explaining why they love each other but that's also the reason they couldn't be together, the chunk of Michael J. Fox's Teen Wolf, for some reason thrown bodily into the middle of the show, the dance and Reggie's gentle mocking of it. It was fun and thought and I tapped my foot a few times to the beat. At the end, people still sat in the house-half of the theatre, not quite sure it was over and several hoping it wasn't. It wasn't until the first couple audience members stood and let their seats sprong back up that most other followed suit.
I didn't understand it all, yes I said it out loud, let it be on my head, but I liked it. It you’re a theatre geek like me, you’ll probably like it too.
- Tom Stewart