Ray Bradbury is resurrected for a lecture on his life and works in Bill Oberst Jr.'s Piccolo play 

"Oberst is simply charming as Bradbury"

click to enlarge Bill Oberst, Jr. likes Ray Bradbury, like, a lot.


Bill Oberst, Jr. likes Ray Bradbury, like, a lot.

Can love and respect hold a piece of art together? Yes and no. Ray Bradbury Live (forever) proves that excitement and sentiment can carry something far, even if it stumbles along the way. Actor Bill Oberst Jr. portrays famed sci-fi and fantasy author Ray Bradbury and all of his quirks in a traditional one-man show format.

Oberst rides onto stage on a bicycle, monologues about general life philosophies, and dives head first into dramatic readings of Bradbury's stories. Tangents are common and occasionally the non-stop chatter is tough to follow. But, when the show's manic attitude grabs you, it can work well.

click to enlarge b.jpg
Imagine a lecture from a very charismatic tenured English professor. Now imagine they hold the class for an extra 10 minutes after the lecture was supposed to end. You're not exactly disappointed because they're lovable, but at the same time...

Ray Bradbury Live (forever) is tricky to say the least. The almost one-man show is gushing with passion for the famed sci-fi author, but did it enrich any lives? Probably not.

Maybe for an hour of the 90-minute runtime, optimism and imagination were reciprocated by the audience, but its tendency to meander gets the best of it at times.

Saying that Ray Bradbury Live (forever) is too in love with its subject is tempting, but the affection for Bradbury is the show's greatest strength. Oberst is simply charming as Bradbury, captivating the audience with endless enthusiasm. This guy knows how to tell a story and he keeps the frenzied spirit flowing from the time he enters the stage to the time he rides his bike off.

The portrayal of Bradbury is obviously romanticized, but Oberst sells every second of it.

There's really not a lot to the production value. Animations projected in the background are largely superfluous, which is a shame because when Oberst interacted with them, it added a new layer to the performance.

In one truly effective moment, Bradbury introduces his novel Something Wicked This Way Comes. In the middle of his monologue, he falls to the ground in despair when he sees the projection of an eerie carnival turn to black and white. Moments like this show the unexplored potential of the multi-media format.

Ray Bradbury Live (forever) works best when it captures the audience's imagination, and showcases Bradbury's masterful hold on his prose. This happens more often than not, but in the end, it's a standard one-man show. If you're an established member of Bradbury's fan club and you've got 90 minutes, there's plenty to love here. For non-fans, Ray Bradbury Live (forever) can be a serviceable primer on the author's work and personality, but reading something from his catalogue is probably the better option.

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