Review: 'Fire in the Garden' at the IRT

Ryan Artzberger stars in Ken Weitzman's piece in the Going Solo festival of a young man nervously anticipating the birth of his first child. Photo by Julie Curry

3.5 stars

Indiana Repertory Theater, Upperstage;

through Feb. 27

Directed by Larissa Kokernot. As a man

nervously waits out the months before the birth of his first child,

he distracts himself by researching, of all things, a horrific

Vietnam War protest act that occurred decades earlier.

The man is playwright Ken Weitzman and

his one-man play, the second in IRT’s Going Solo festival,

follows his attempt to understand what drove Quaker Norman Morrison

to set himself on fire outside the Pentagon in 1965, with his

one-year-old daughter looking on.

Most of the 90-minute monologue is a

thoughtful and funny internal discussion about what makes a man

despair for his generation, what makes him die for it and what

convinces him to live. Although Weitzman is deeply troubled himself

about impending environmental catastrophe, we feel him embrace life

with descriptions of hypno-birthing, sleep deprivation and a baby who

shows his glee by swinging his arm over his head like a rodeo rider.

As the cynical, self-deprecating

playwright, Ryan Artzberger (A Christmas Carol, Rabbit Hole)

pulls us in and paces himself well until the last third, when the

playwright’s tone becomes increasingly pedantic. I’m

betting on Artzberger’s endurance, if not the script, to

improve over time. No matter what, Fire in the Garden delivers

a solid hour of highly original thought.

635-5252, www.irtlive.com.

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