This reviewer seems to have waxed his intellect beautifully on my show and ridden the strange wave to the unsure impeccably. I should read more surfing mags!
THE CHRONIC ILLS OF ROBERT ZIMMERMAN AKA BOB DYLAN (A LIE)
Sunday, 31 October 2010
The Chronic Ills of Robert Zimmerman AKA BOB DYLAN (A Lie)
A Critical Stages and Tamarama Rock Surfers Theatre Company Production
The Seymour Centre, Sydney
If you surf, it goes without saying that you must be into Bob Dylan. After all, he wrote all those classic surf songs – Visions of Johanna, Song to Woody, Blowin' in the Wind, Tangled Up In Blue... Plus he directed a couple of underground surf movies in the 70s, invented the wetsuit and was the first guy to surf Teahuúpo switchfoot.
Now some of that is true, and some of it is not – but it all makes for a good story. And that's as good a cue as any for Benito di Fonzo's "The Chronic Ills of Robert Zimmerman AKA Bob Dylan (A Lie)", currently playing at the Seymour Centre in Sydney.
It's billed as "A Theatrical Talking Blues and Glissendorf" ('Glissendorf' is an expression His Bobness invented to describe witty wordplay that enabled the hip to remain aloof from the unhip). And it delivers as a rapid-fire soliloquy on everything that has set Bob Dylan apart as the smartest, sharpest and hippest Song and Dance Man of our time. It has the added advantage of being hilarious.
In "The Chronic Ills...", our man Bob talks us through his life and times, from the iron hills of Minnesota to Greenwich Village and beyond, from spurious beginnings to even more fanciful destinations. The fellow travellers along the way include Joan Baez, John and Yoko, TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, Johnny Cash, Robbie Robertson, and Abe Lincoln as a Jewish huckster from New York. All the great Dylan milestones are referenced – the Woody Guthrie connection, going electric, the motorcycle crash, born-again Bob, the 90s comeback, the Never-Ending Tour – but the devil has got into the detail, making this a very unreliable memoir indeed. Or is it?
You don't have to be a Dylan freak to enjoy this ride. A smattering of rock culture will mean even the most uninitiated will be able to join enough dots to follow the trail and be tickled by its absurdist twists and turns. But if you do happen to be a Dylan tragic – and there are all too many of us about – then"The Chronic Ills..." is the truth transformed into a riot. Sydney playwright di Fonzo seems to have taken every Dylan biography, interview, documentary and film clip ever released, stuffed them into a giant word processor, shaken it around and then let fly. Dylan was invariably sly, enigmatic and right-on when he used these words the first time around; di Fonzo's extended dance mix takes them in new directions without losing any of their potency.
Matt Ralph does a champion job as Dylan, ably supported by Andrew Henry and Lenore Munro and the instrumental backdrop conjured up by Simon Rippingale. It's a Critical Stages/Tamarama Rock Surfers Theatre Company production, reinforcing their credentials as leaders in independent theatre in Australia. The only down side is that the current season ends this Saturday, 6 November. Get onto the Seymour Centre now for tickets – it'll put you in touch with your Bobcat within.
- Ian Cameron
(originally published at http://www.pacificlongboarder.com/news.asp?id=2760&category=2)