Actor/playwright/songwriter Bill Berry revels in the power of humor and compassion at The Whitefire Theatre on Ventura Blvd.

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Wit and wisdom abound in the touching ‘The Brick – A One Man Musical’ in Sherman Oaks

Review by Bob Rich

“You want me to lighten the mood? Tell a joke?” asks Bill Berry, halfway through his one-man play “The Brick – A One Man Musical.” Wise words. By the show’s end, he learns to forgive through the redemptive power of humor and sympathy.

In the play, Berry meets with the spirit of his departed mother at the seashore. He is still resentful over her neglect of him during his youth. But his bitterness softens as he reflects upon his childhood through comical songs and engaging anecdotes.

The play is entertaining and touching. It showcases the same kind of cathartic honesty we come to expect from one of Berry’s favorite authors: Charles Bukowski.

By the end, he learns to forgive through the redemptive power of humor and sympathy.

The set features the giant picture of a sunlit beach. The few props include a towel, a guitar and a beverage cooler. The lights above him change color with the mood.

I was reminded of another ghost story written for the stage: “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare. Prince Hamlet encounters the ghost of his father, King Hamlet. The ghost tells the prince about the criminal who took his life — and demands revenge. Shakespeare’s Hamlet ends in tragedy, with many characters’ lives ruined. In Berry’s play, he encounters his mother’s ghost and tells her of her crimes against him during his youth. Yet, when he discovers how to laugh at yesterday, and considers how the hardships of war must have affected her, his compassion overcomes his resentment. During the last few minutes, we hear sea gulls and crashing waves, and Berry finally seems at peace.

“The Brick: A One Man Musical” is written and performed by Bill Berry, directed by Kelly DeSarla. Go to BillBerryMusic.com for details on future performances. Berry will also be performing a music set at the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena on Wednesday, February 28th.

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