FRINGE REVIEW: Doppelbanger

I want Nick Jonczak to be my best friend.  You will, too, I think, after you see him in his one-man performance piece called DOPPELBANGER.  Jonczak is about as open a performer – and person – as you’ll meet.

Full disclosure: he stayed on my floor a few weeks ago as he was traveling through town on his way to a different gig (he is a friend of a friend of a friend).  I kept him up later than he probably wanted, talking about all things Cincinnati theatre, Fringe, tarot cards, and life.  I had already chosen his show in my lineup of productions I wanted to see before I got the text from my friend introducing us.  After I met him I knew I would absolutely not miss his performance.

Even before the show began, he was chatting up the audience, wanting to meet as many people as he could.  After the curtain speech, during which Nick was nodding and smiling, engaged and seemingly impressed by the number of sponsors (and amount of words that were crammed into the pre-show plugs.)  As he introduced himself, he was tearful – joyful and happy to be part of this unique festival; he began the show so casually that it wasn’t clear when it actually began.  It became obvious that this conversational piece of theatrical art was going to be unique.  And worthwhile.

As we walked in, we were asked to select a Tarot card. I was running late from a show that went over (shame, shame) and so I just grabbed the first card I saw.  Others, though, put some effort into their selection.  Jonczak then several audience members a one-card reading, incorporating Tarot into his performance.  Seguing from audience banter into performance pieces featuring powerful voice overs, which allow him to physically tell stories about people he had dated or wished he dated or wished he hadn’t dated.  While not a dance show, the graceful and sometimes sensual way he moves about the small stage in MOTR Pub’s basement belied his skills as a dancer.  (Sit in the front row if you can to make sure you don’t miss a thing.)  Jonczak bares his soul in this piece; he also bares most of his body. But it’s not sensationalistic or excessive in any way.  It’s natural, just like his performance style.

After the show, people whose cards were not read walked up to him for his take on the card they selected.  Ever giving, he engaged with them despite needing to reset for his next performance. It’s that authentic generosity – that openness – that makes me want to know more of him.

I think Cincinnati audiences will want to know him more, too.

DOPPELBANGER runs through next weekend as part of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival.  Click here for more information on tickets.