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Wallace Shawn bring his incisive neuroticism to UCLA Live

January 21, 2011 |  2:15 pm

Wallace_Shawn_(c)_Jared_Rodriguez As a character actor, writer and activist, Wallace Shawn defines sui generis. There's simply no one like him. His conflicted intelligence, always second-guessing his own positions and polemics, is a neurotic spectacle worth catching, which is why eggheads of a certain theatrical stripe will be lining up for his UCLA Live appearance at Royce Hall on Saturday night.

Titled "Wallace Shawn: Real World, Fake World, Dream World," the event consists of Shawn reading and interpreting his own recent works as well as those works of writers and thinkers who have, for better or worse, influenced him. It's a chance to find out what makes this delightfully dithering New York intellectual tick.
As I wrote in my review of "Essays," his 2009 collection of political and cultural musings, "Shawn's signature tone, familiar to those who know his one-of-a-kind dramatic works, such as "Aunt Dan and Lemon," "The Fever" and "The Designated Mourner," or his movie colloquy with Andre Gregory, "My Dinner With Andre," is a kind of canny naïveté, in which complicated questions are approached with a simplicity that strips the conventional barnacles from the search for truth."

At its best, Shawn's struggle for candor illuminates the darkened basement corners of the soul. It can also be weirdly (and wonderfully) amusing, in a Woody Allen-meets-Will Rogers sort of way.

-- Charles McNulty\charlesmcnulty

Photo: Wallace Shawn. Credit: Jared Rodriguez