I’ve known Ralf Jean-Pierre since I was putting on a comedy show at the former Trash Bar in Williamsburg, and we’ve talked a lot about art and New York since then. So, I’ve heard a lot about this project, and was very excited to see it yesterday. So, this may not be an unbiased review. Though, I’d never seen him perform Shakespeare before.
I’ve never seen anyone perform Shakespeare like this before.
Ralf enacts Shakespeare like he feels every sentiment, and the words and actions are his own natural responses. Like he’s stepped into poetry and become it. Like nobody’s watching.
Full disclosure, I happened to see Twelfth Night once while going through a heartbreak in my twenties. It was weirdly applicable, so I bought a paperback copy of the play. I read it so much that, when everything came to a head, I started crying and the first thing I thought was, “Make me a willow cabin at your gate, and call upon my soul within the house.” You know I felt it, and this is how Ralf Jean-Pierre acts it.
His one-man show, “What Should Be the Fear,” tells about his 4,000-mile bike trip in 2012 to perform “one-man Shakespeare scenes to unsuspecting audiences around the United States.” He approaches locals in Wal-Mart parking lots and on front lawns with Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet. But all of his show, “What Should Be the Fear,” is “Shakespeare.” Comedy and tragedy mix to fortify a theme of overcoming fear.
The scope is epic—the characters and formative events of a life-changing seven months on the road. From an ease-taking Southern audience on angel dust, to a chihuahua that serves as a cycling sidekick. You’ll crave granola bars, and fear disembodied announcements from the sky.
It’s hard to believe that this man, who asks his Waffle House waitress if he can perform King Lear to the coffee-and-smokes crowd, has any fear. But then, there were the trucks, and mean dogs, tall hills, and deep, cold pools of water when you couldn’t swim—and the tragedy of losing a best friend, that can put the fear of life into you. This play, and performance, is a triumph of every kind.
What Should Be the Fear
Thursdays and Fridays from July 13 to August 4, 2017
Doors open at 7 pm, shows start at 8 pm
231 Norman Ave #114, Brooklyn, NY 11222
For ticket information and to purchase online
The show also features a original blues-rap songs and score written and composed by Ralf, from an album also entitled WHAT SHOULD BE THE FEAR, accompanied by musician Omar Haddad. Recorded entirely with live Blues and Rock & Roll musicians, Ralf designed the record to sound and feel like the varied places and adventures he experienced on his tour.