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'Selected Shorts' at the Getty, starring Tim Curry

March 27, 2011 |  1:16 pm

Stephenoconnortimcurry
On Saturday, Tim Curry captivated the sold-out crowd at the Getty as he read Stephen O'Connor's story "Ziggurat." It was part of the three-program "Selected Shorts" series at the Getty, run by New York's Symphony Space. Selected Shorts pairs actors with short fiction for readings that are funny, strange, sad and, at the Getty, well attended.

This was the 19th year of "Selected Shorts" at the Getty, and the $30 tickets included a wine and food pairing after the readings, which were loosely grouped under the umbrella "Delicious Fictions." Each of the three programs featured different stories and actors, including regular readers Leonard Nimoy and Christina Pickles and first-timer Tim Curry. New to the program, that is, not new to the stage -- he's been nominated for three Tony Awards, most recently for playing King Arthur in "Monty Python's Spamalot."

An actor of Curry's caliber can take a story like O'Connor's -- a long fairy tale with a terrifying Minotaur and a video game-playing ingenue he calls New Girl -- and give it a shape an author's reading rarely can. With most of the reading inflected by Curry's British accent, his switch to flat affect for the New Girl, a spacey Rolling Rock-drinking American with a propensity for saying "Wow," often drew laughs. The fit of the story into the program, which mostly consisted of the Minotaur's habit of eating humans and an occasional dog -- went from grotesque to exquisite, with Curry rumbling, "mmm, mmmm, tasty." 

"Selected Shorts" founder Isaiah Sheffer read T.C. Boyle's "Rapture of the Deep," a funny story of Jacques Cousteau's chef driven to mutiny by having to serve fish one too many times. Before the reading, Boyle, who was in the audience with his wife, wondered how Sheffer would fare with the French accents -- très bon, as it turns out: Sheffer can do a very good Costeau impression.

The day opened with "Customer Service at the Karaoke Don Quixote," a funny short short by Juan Martinez, a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The story is narrated by the Karaoke Don Quixote host, who admits he has a "bad accent on purpose," which actor Nate Corddry ("Harry's Law") interpreted as an impossible combination of Russian and Spanish. "It was fantastic," Martinez said after the reading. "It was exactly what I expected."

That all three authors attended the Saturday reading was unusual for "Selected Shorts." The other programs, on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, included stories by Dorothy Parker, John Cheever and Raymond Carver, authors who are no longer able to enjoy food, drink and the pleasures of hearing their works read by actors. But their delicious fictions live on.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Stephen O'Connor and Tim Curry. Credit: Carolyn Kellogg / Los Angeles Times

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