Zero Hour, a one-man act being shown at The New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC) recounting the life of actor Zero Mostel, is a mesmerizing and refreshingly witty show from beginning to end. Under the direction of Brendan James, the stage is dominated with boundless confidence by Jim Brochu, recipient of three L.A. Drama Circle Awards and personal friend of the late Mostel. The scene is set in Mostel's cozy art studio shortly after the successful release of The Producers. Brochu plays the larger-than-life actor and creates a tone of immediacy by addressing the audience directly in an explosive voice. The questions of a beginning reporter from the New York Times who is assigned to interview Mostel are answered with brutal sarcasm, perfectly timed comedic wit and, most powerfully, genuine honesty. From the Lower East Side of Manhattan where Mostel spent his early youth painting, reading literature and making people laugh, to the devastating accident that crushed his leg in 1960 following Mostel's rise to fame, the play covers many significant moments in the infamous actor's life. Brochu rounds out the character of Mostel through a mastery of facial expressions and timing, manipulating the mood of the audience with absurd impressions (a butterfly at rest) and painfully earnest recollections of loved ones. One moment the room is quaking with laughter from a story about performing in comedy clubs in the 1940s, the next: dead silence while Brochu describes the horrors of McCarthy's Blacklist America. For a one-man show, Brochu creates the feeling of a full cast play, painting unforgettable pictures of friends, actors, family and most memorably, Mostel himself.-Travis Schirmer
Sunday, November 18, 2007
WCITIES reviews Zero Hour
WCities, an online publication which is a guide to San Francisco reviews Zero Hour.