Spotlight: The Channel Changer
Ghost Bridge Theatre's inaugural production is a one-man, five-part show by Jeff Nichols that tackles with conviction questions of art, spirit, and justice in post-9/11 America. Most effective is his opening monologue, in which he portrays a Pakistani detainee accused of terrorist affiliations who has been cut off from his family and is slowly going mad. In other segments Nichols drifts far afield, though there are moments in each of his pieces that lodge in the memory--his respectable stab at cosmic poetry in character at a spoken-word face-off, for instance, and his extended Eastern chant harmonizing the universe with the clutter and detritus of consumer culture. Some of this material could have done with an edit, but Nichols has energy onstage and generally communicates a compassionate worldview, laced through with social critique, without descending into simplistic formulations. A sequence in an art museum starts off funny, then flirts with cliché, and a final sinister vignette with an embittered intelligence spook fails to take hold with precision. In all, though, The Channel Changer comes off as a likeable effort by a writer and performer with a distinctive take on the times. While the work feels a bit unfinished, there are gems to be mined amid its 90-minute span.
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