What Should Be the Fear: Opening Night
Ralf Jean-Pierre’s one-man show, What Should Be the Fear, reviewed by Sara Harvey. Originally appeared, July 14, 2017, on the former New York indie entertainment site, The Comedy Local.
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I’ve known Ralf Jean-Pierre since I was putting on a comedy show at the former Trash Bar in Williamsburg, and we’ve talked a lot about art and New York since then. So, I’ve heard a lot about this project, and was excited to see it yesterday. So, this may not be an unbiased review. Though, I’d never seen him perform Shakespeare before.
I’ve never seen anyone perform Shakespeare like this before.
Ralf enacts Shakespeare like he feels every sentiment, and the words and actions are his own natural responses. Like he’s stepped into poetry and become it. Like nobody’s watching.
Full disclosure, I happened to see Twelfth Night while going through a heartbreak in my twenties. It was weirdly applicable, so I bought a paperback copy of the play. I read it so much that, when everything came to a head, I started crying and the first thing I thought was, “Make me a willow cabin at your gate, and call upon my soul within the house.” You know I felt it, and this is how Ralf Jean-Pierre acts it.
His one-man show, “What Should be the Fear,” tells about his 4,000-mile bike trip in 2012 to perform “one-man Shakespeare scenes to unsuspecting audiences around the United States.” He approaches locals in Walmart parking lots and on front lawns with Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet. But all of his show, What Should Be the Fear, is “Shakespeare.” Comedy and tragedy mix to fortify a theme of overcoming fear.
The scope is epic–the characters and formative events of a life-changing seven months on the road. From an ease-taking Southern audience on angel dust, to a chihuahua that serves as a cycling sidekick. You’ll crave granola bars, and fear disembodied announcements from the sky.
It’s hard to believe that this man, who asks his Waffle House waitress if he can perform King Lear to the coffee-and-smokes crowd, has any fear. And then, there were the trucks, and mean dogs, and tall hills, and deep, cold pools of water when you couldn’t swim–and the tragedy of losing a best friend, that can put the fear of life into you. This play, and performance, is a triumph of every kind.
Learn more about Ralf Jean-Pierre (AKA Precious Gorgeous) at preciousgorgeousralf.com.
Sara Harvey is an alum of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, and has produced indie shows across New York City. She now writes and draws humor in Rochester, NY, by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Hobart Pulp, The Belladonna, The Junction, Spiralbound and more.