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Talk Is Cheap... Dreams Are Priceless 

Like Inside the Actors Studio taken to the next level

Wednesday, Aug 23 2006
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Instead of the lights going down in the Magic Theatre, they come up during the entirety of this one-man show, which blurs the lines between art imitating life, acting class, and Tony Robbins-esque therapy session. Actor/playwright Jim Jarrett reveals a cultlike charisma while portraying the late, legendary acting teacher Sanford Meisner, of whom he was a student and protegé. Culled from years of meticulously kept student journals, the show is essentially a handful of classes conducted by the master (who started the Group Theatre with Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, and Harold Clurman) starting in 1955 and ending 30 years later, with the audience standing in as pupils. Jarrett is an acting instructor himself (he's opening a Meisner school in San Francisco next month), which adds another layer to this beguiling multilayered onion of a show. One part presents the effective product of Meisner training, as Jarrett channels his teacher with deft precision. Another part illuminates the teaching process, as Jarrett (as Meisner) conducts an acting class with videotaped students (from an actual class?), ripping them to tearful shreds. Jarrett then raises the ante by asking the audience for unscripted acting questions and then answering them in character. It's captivating and confrontational, and begs the question: Does an acting class constitute compelling theater? Though I overheard one audience member mumbling that Talk was merely an ego trip, I'd say it does, especially for those who want to see Inside the Actors Studio taken to the next level.

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Nathaniel Eaton

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