One-Man Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now, with its 153 minute running time, multi-million dollar production costs and jungle location, might not seem like the most obvious contender for adaptation into a one-man show. But this is exactly what Chris Davis – with director Mary Tuomanen and sound designer Adriano Shaplin – has done. In a small conference room in a Grassmarket hotel, Davis capers around an imaginary Vietnam condensing the entire film into 55 minutes of frantic fun.

His impressions are pulled off with varying levels of success

Davis is, first and foremost, a character actor, using the one-man form to showcase his abilities in switching between a large cast of figures. Generally speaking, he manages this well, making each new character distinct and his own fairly quickly. His impressions are pulled off with varying levels of success: particularly funny (and accurate) are his deadpan, gravel-voiced Martin Sheen; the fevered drawl of T.S. Eliot-fuelled Marlon Brando and the manically hilarious Dennis Hopper. I am using the real names of these actors because, as part of a neat series of nods to Hollywood and the film’s production history, Davis invariably refers to the figures as actors rather than characters, an idea which gives rise to several well-pitched comic moments (“I’m Martin Sheen! My son is Charlie Sheen, he’s famous!”).

Not all of Davis’s characters and sketches are equally well-judged, however. A serious fault that keeps recurring is the length of skits, which often drag on for way too long and become grating, repetitive. His version of Robert Duvall’s Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore is especially susceptible to this flaw; parody of the character’s surfing obsession is pursued relentlessly. Yet elsewhere this is occasionally turned to a theatrical advantage. When Davis takes the time to deliver long monologues and complete speeches, he becomes consumed by his character. These are some of the show’s best moments, and occur with more frequency at the beginning and end of the piece.

Unapologetically cheeky, One-Man Apocalypse Now offers a decent way to spend an hour: enjoyable for all, this will be most rewarding for those with knowledge of Coppola’s film.

Reviews by Sam Fulton

Pleasance Dome

The Paper Cinema's Macbeth

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Speaking in Tongues: The Lies

★★★
Scottish Storytelling Centre

Fuaigh – Interweaving

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Phil Wang: Kinabalu

★★★★
Scottish Storytelling Centre

Turntable / Edinburgh

★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Me, as a Penguin

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Imagine Apocalypse Now performed by one actor in 60 minutes, recreating some of the most famous scenes from cinema history through Chris Davis' unique theatrical lens. Backed by the soundtrack of the movie, Davis explores the heart of darkness through movement, sound, dance, comedy, drama, lunacy, philosophy and more in this high-octane 60 minute tour-de-force, directed by Mary Tuomanen and sound design by Adriano Shaplin. ‘Whether you’ve seen the film or not, Chris Davis’ One-Man Apocalypse Now will be a funny, dark, poignant, playful and well-spent hour of your life’ (Patricia Mitchell, Charm City Fringe, DCMetroTheatreArts.com).