CFUV @ UNO: Review of ‘6 Guitars’
Written by Festival Coverage on 05/09/2015
6 Guitars – Trailer from Chase Padgett on Vimeo.
At some point in 6 Guitars, Chase Padgett reminds the audience that blues and hip-hop cover the same four themes (which I wonâ€™t spoil). About two-thirds of the way in, I realized that his one-man show owed a similar debt to convention. His six guitarists, which include a country musician, a young slacker,Â and a self-important jazz player, all come from well-worn tropes. But, as his characters sidle up and endear themselves to a rapt audience, they transcend their humble roots in hilarious and sometimes unexpected ways.
The staging was simple: a folding chair, guitar stand, and a table with a drink that only one of his six guitarists actually touched. Everything from the theatre to Padgettâ€™s wardrobe was black, all except for the coloured backdrop that changed with the characters, and the yellow accents on his (mostly black) runners â€” a consequence of leaving his dress shoes at his hotel.
The six guitarists spend most of their time trying to convince the audience about the superiority of their chosen genre, but their life stories inevitably emerge, and while the monologues aren’t strongly tied together plot-wise, they spin ever closer thematically as time passes.
Padgett eased the audience from one character to the next, often with a musical interlude, but by a certain point the transitions became as quick and seamless as Jack Donaghyâ€™s impressions during a Tracy Jordan therapy session. His body noticeably droops or stiffens as he trades the wild gesticulations of a rocker for the laboured sips of an elderly bluesman. At several points in the show, he involves his audience in call and response, or improvises something that makes everyone laugh and squirm.
6 Guitars is funny, heartfelt, and a virtuosic display of musicianship. Yes, some characters and songs were recognizable, but that familiarity only strengthened the kinship between performer and audience.
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