“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved.”
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
Darwinii: The Comeuppance of Man
“Performed in a bravura 75-minute flood of hilarious intrigue… Darwinii is one of the most mesmerizing pieces of theater this town has seen in a decade.” —Tony Brown, The Plain Dealer
Created by Brett Keyser and playwright Glen Berger, this solo performance features Keyser in the role of Cristóbal, an Argentine man accused of various crimes, including stealing original Charles Darwin manuscripts from rare book libraries around the world. Why? Because he’s convinced he’s the great-great-great-great bastard grandson of the father of Natural Selection. As part of his sentence he must deliver a public apology, during which he digresses, with flamboyant intensity and bawdy humor, into the story of his life, growing up as an orphan in Tierra del Fuego and inadvertently becoming an expert Darwinologist (not to mention an international criminal), exploiting every opportunity to prove his pedigree (and make some money). The performance is a tango-tinged dance of life, a fresh take on some of Darwin’s ideas about the struggle for survival, sexual selection, the origin of species, and the descent of man.
“Keyser creates a symphony of glorious intellectual dysfunction that plays well against the hard rationality of his supposed forebear. …an immediate contender for the title of Most Enjoyable and Engrossing 70 Minutes on Stage in 2011.” —Christine Howey, Scene Magazine
Darwinii evolved from an initial workshop of improvisation and interplay between Keyser, Berger, and Canadian fellow traveler Ker Wells. The creative team also includes Tracy Broyles on props and costumes, Laylage Courie of Brooklyn-based Luminous Work, providing the voice of a fictional Darwin scholar, and the illuminators: Laura Astwood and Ruben.
“…the most entertaining and intellectually seductive theatrical piece I’ve seen this year in Philadelphia.” —Ed Weiner, former Seattle Times writer/reviewer
Darwinii was commissioned by and originally performed at the American Philosophical Society (APS) Museum, and was supported in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. The sold-out 2009 premiere run was selected by the Philadelphia Weekly as a “Best of the Live Arts Fest”.
“The performance was brilliant – a tour de force that Keyser never turned down. …the show raised plenty of questions about natural selection, fate and the origin of man, but more than anything, it showed to me the power of the stage.” —Timothy Malcolm, Arts & Entertainment Editor, Times Herald-Record
Survival of the “Fittest”
An excerpt from Darwinii: The Comeuppance of Man
Video and stills by Greenhouse Media
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“The one-man show was riveting, amusing and deep-thought provoking… a “Charles Darwin Experience” that, quite simply, blew me away…. I left the theatre with a strong desire to read everything Darwin wrote…” —Jonathan Fox, The River Reporter