By Dan Bacalzo Feb 17, 2012
William Shatner displays a curious mix of self-deprecation and self-aggrandizement in Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It, his entertaining one-man show currently playing a limited Broadway engagement at The Music Box before launching a brief national tour. The actor demonstrates a willingness to laugh at himself, thereby allowing the audience to laugh along with him, while still recognizing the value of his varied and quite impressive career.
Shatner is, of course, best known as Captain Kirk from the original Star Trek series, and the movie franchise that followed. Several of his stories touch upon this fact, whether it’s a ribald comment made by fellow Star Trek cast member George Takei at Shatner’s Comedy Central roast to Shatner’s interactions with NASA and the space program. However, the actor doesn’t provide the kind of tell-all insider dish about the show and its cast that may be hoped for by some audience members.
The solo piece is structured as a collection of anecdotes, loosely strung together. … more often than not, the performer scores with a genuinely funny tale.
He touches upon his career highlights, including his Emmy-winning role as Denny Crane on both Boston Legal and The Practice. But it’s often the lesser-known details of his life and career that provide some of the more interesting stories. Among these are the early influences that burlesque comedians had on his understanding of comedy; understudying — and having to go on for — Christopher Plummer in the title role of Shakespeare’s Henry V; and starring in the critically panned but somehow long-running Broadway play, The World of Suzie Wong.
… . But while he shares a number of details about his life, he refrains from getting overly personal. He does, however, maintain a conversational tone throughout the evening, which sets the audience at ease.
Accompanying his tales are video clips and still photographs that are projected onto a large, circular screen that dominates Edward Pierce’s spare scenic design. …
“Near the top of the show he recalls being asked to open a televised tribute to George Lucas. A dubious Mr. Shatner wondered, would Mr. Lucas, the creator of “Star Wars,” get the joke? On the giant circular screen that dominates the set we are shown marked evidence that he did not, at least at first. When Mr. Shatner is introduced as M.C., Mr. Lucas and others are shown looking dumbfounded or disgusted.”
Still the best Kirk there was, but I like the idea that there will be many more, and not just Chris Pine. Kirk should be a character like James Bond who keeps having untold adventures pop up for decades.