If you ask me…

- Tom Holehan

One-Man “Lion” at Long Wharf Theatre

One man, a simple set and six guitars make “The Lion” roar at Long Wharf Theatre. The solo show, starring an appealing, charismatic Benjamin Scheuer, is currently very much at home on Long Wharf’s intimate Stage II. The man and his music are worth a visit.

Written and performed by Mr. Scheuer with understated direction by Sean Daniels, “The Lion” is a deceptively simple story about a young man’s conflicted relationship with his father. As a teen, Scheuer never really connected with his dad even though they shared a mutual love of music. But when Scheuer is unjustly punished, he pens a thoughtless note to his father that he lives to regret. There is more, much more to come in this very human and humane story, but the viewer should experience these incidences as they are revealed. No spoilers will be provided here.

“The Lion” is one of those rare evenings of theatre that sneak up on you and resonates in your head long after the play ends. It should be especially moving for men whose fathers, no matter how good or well-meaning, never quite lived up to the exacting standards of manhood we sometimes expect of them. In that regard, it reminded me of the fine Bruce Dern film from a few years back, “Nebraska”, which also explored the question of whether one can ever really know one’s father and eventually learning to accept him no matter the flaws.

This personal project is a marvelous vehicle for the talented and personable Scheuer who, in addition to making his story an engaging one, plays all those guitars expertly and performs a string of original songs that delight and haunt the soul in equal measure. The redemptive power of music is a strong theme in this 80-minute performance piece where you are drawn into a true life experience and feel all the richer for having done so.

Originally produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club and now on tour throughout the country, “The Lion” is a small jewel; warm, funny and immensely moving. Don’t miss it.

“The Lion” continues at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre through February 7. For further information or ticket reservations call the theatre box office at: 203.787.4284 or visit: www.longwharf.org.

Tom Holehan is one of the original founders of the Connecticut Critics Circle, a frequent contributor to WPKN Radio’s “State of the Arts” program and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com. His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.

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