To watch Don Reed's 2009 one-man show, East 14th: Tales of a Reluctant Player, was to fall in love with his style. He displayed an uncanny knack for chopping a four-year period out of his autobiography, shaping it into a perfect narrative arc, conveying the story through a repertory of character impersonations, and squeezing a moral from the end.
His new show, The Kipling Hotel, is about serving brunch to senior citizens as a part-time job while studying speech and debate at UCLA. Reed uses his endlessly elastic body to morph easily from character to character -- he even throws in an over-the-top E.T. impression -- while providing a vivid account of what it was like to be an African-American college student who'd come up from the inner-city.
The historical backdrop -- Los Angeles during the era of Reaganomics, crack cocaine included -- heavily informs Reed's story, though he manages to find humor in even the most unfair and painful circumstances.
Dinner before the show at Gecko Gecko at 6:30
2101 Milvia St (between Addison St & Center St)
An East Bay Express Staff Pick
"Treasure Trove of Diverse Characters... An Impressive Performance"
–Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle
“Comic genius... diverse and wildly funny - a solo powerhouse”
Don Reed wins “Best Onstage Impression” –SF Weekly!
"... a rich mine of memory and material for this physically protean and charismatic comic actor, who sails through two acts of often hilarious, sometimes touching vignettes"
–Rob Avila, SF Guardian
"Don Reed crawls into the faces of each character and becomes them!... You walk out laughing and repeating the jokes. 3 stars and a bangle of praise! We predict this will be a 4 star show very soon."
–Doug Konecky, SF Theater Blog