Richard Louis James’ one-man homage to Quentin Crisp

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Through Aug. 31. Tickets are $26; visit www.sfplayhouse.org.
SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), S.F.

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Writer and performer Richard Louis James' one-man show is a languorous homage to the gender-bending English raconteur Quentin Crisp. The show unfolds in two parts: The first half is a monologue advising the audience to embrace style as a form of consciousness, and the second half is an impromptu question-and-answer session. James' script, which owes much of its structure and tone to Crisp's own one-man show, is obviously supposed to be chatty — for instance, he spends the first five minutes asking theatergoers to turn off their cell phones. But even on its own rambling terms, the show is strangely unsatisfying. It's a respectful tribute but not an enlightening or invigorating one; audiences will walk away with some appreciation for Crisp's mannerisms and witticisms, but might be at a loss to recall any of them a few hours later. The best one-person shows don't simply succeed at reanimating a figure from the past — they find a way to tell us why the reanimation was worthwhile in the first place. Unfortunately, based on the evidence here, audiences with no prior exposure to Quentin Crisp would be forgiven if they thought him a bit of a bore.

 
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