Review: 'In Acting Shakespeare' at the IRT

Jim DeVita stars in the last of the IRT's Going Solo series, In Acting Shakespeare, about a man's lifelong commitment to the Bard.

3.5 stars

Indiana Repertory Theatre, Upperstage;

through March 6.

James DeVita’s solo performance

(the third and last in the IRT’s Going Solo series) was

inspired by Ian McKellen’s Acting Shakespeare, which

chronicled that great British actor’s path to and on the stage.

Seeing that one-man show as a young man

in 1983, DeVita (a fisherman at the time) discovered what he wanted

to do with his life: to perform Shakespeare so that actions match the

words and the words will touch anyone, regardless of education or


The best of DeVita’s story

captures the naive audacity that nudges a young man to audition for a

New York drama school with a “monologue” from Jaws and

apply to England’s most prestigious acting schools with three

non-speaking college theater roles under his belt.

Though DeVita failed to catapult

himself to greatness in these early attempts, hard work finally took

him to a Wisconsin theater troupe, where he has since spent two

decades revisiting Shakespeare’s words and luring audiences to

do the same.

DeVita’s seemingly self-directed

performance, including some commanding Shakespearean soliloquies and

some masterful lighting by Ryan Koharchik, is funny, tender and

moving, but it is not a finished work. Advertised as 90 minutes, In

Acting Shakespeare runs two hours plus with an awkwardly placed

intermission and ending. DeVita needs to fix his focus on

transforming a lifetime of performing into one solid performance.



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