|Mike Benedetti -> Content -> Reviews and Essays -> Kenneth Starr (Nov. 1998)|
Mike Benedetti's Topics in Improvisation and Performance, November 20, 1998:
There is a kind of circling that takes us places. Oh, if you repeat a thing a few times you may induce boredom, or a trance, but you haven't gotten anywhere new. But if the right person circles the right subject to the right extreme...think of young Conan, turning the grindstone for years, wearing a trench in the ground and turning himself into Schwarzenegger.
Kenneth Starr circles and takes us places. Like Conan, he does not complain; he accepts Barney Frank's frenetic lashings, perhaps seeing them as an interesting counterpoint to his song, perhaps seeing past them. Like Conan, he has no fear of the banal; each detail, each incident is worthy of his repeated and complete attention. Like Conan, his words and actions are the center of attention, and he bends his environment to powerful effect.
It is a pity that Mr. Starr has been discovered by a mass audience so late in his career as a public performer, and twice the pity that this master of the interview must live in a society nearly devoid of talented interviewers, a society without the patience to grill Mr. Starr for days on his favorite ice cream flavors, revelling in the patterns that emerge from his discinclination to characterize each flavor, the deepening of themes as he revisits each flavor ad raptum, the knife-edged elegance of his precisely positioned position on the subject of quiescently frozen confections.
It is a wonder that the coalition of conservatives who oppose public funding of the arts have seen fit to devote forty-five million public dollars to a single piece, and twice the wonder that the resulting work was worthy of the investment. It is a good time to be alive.