by Clark Groome
A reading of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” and excerpts from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” all major parts of actor Tom Teti’s “Mark Twain Unplugged,” remind us, if we needed reminding, of the brilliance of the man who just may be America’s greatest writer.
The piece, which plays at Ambler’s Act II Playhouse through Feb. 8, is a pleasant and informative look at Twain’s life and writing. Teti, one of the area’s busiest and most versatile actors, has created a show that, as directed by Tony Braithwaite, seems to capture the wit and wisdom of the man who was born Samuel Clemens. There are times when Teti, dressed in the mandatory white suit, seems to slip in an out of character, often to make an aside to the audience.
While the show is basically a monodrama, Teti has piano player Sonny Leo on stage with him to supply some background music, a few “objective” reports on Twain’s life and some interaction with the man himself.
While not the definitive story of Twain’s life and writing, “Mark Twain Unplugged” is an informative and entertaining primer. Teti clearly has a handle on his character, although his emphasis on Twain’s view of politicians makes him sound a bit like Will Rogers. It is a pleasure to spend the 70 minutes the show runs with him.
For tickets, call 215-654-0200 or visit www.act2.org