Mark Twain Abroad
Dramatic recreation of a lecture by the famous author lacks panache
This article is from 2011.
Purportedly embarking on a round-the-world lecturing tour in order to pay off his ‘considerable debts’, Mark Twain (Todd Wronski) discards the original speech he had prepared in favour of an hour-long discourse on the benefits of travelling. In it, he discusses national stereotypes, the pros and cons of imperialism, the deceptive isolation of New Zealand and much more.
The byword for Twain’s delivery is ‘wry’. His observations are wry; his occasional asides are wry; his entire demeanour, especially when discussing his own considerable talent, is wry in the extreme. And while this may be an accurate representation of Twain’s character (although this reviewer likes to think of him as a good deal more curmudgeonly when it comes down to it), the result is a very one-note performance. The audience is bombarded with a massive amount of information that rumbles on relentlessly with nary a pause for thought, all delivered with the same smirking wryness. Again, perhaps this is exactly the way Twain would have performed, but if so, he’d probably only get two stars as well.