Travels with a Masked Man, written by John Hadden, based on his book Conversations with a Masked Man: My Father, the CIA, and Me. Directed by David Stern. Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman.
". . .things covered in time."
I've said this before: I am not fond of one person shows. However, "Travels with a Masked Man" has two men on stage, embodied in a single actor, John Hadden. He plays himself at different ages, though most of the time he is himself during the past few years. He also plays his father. He and his father must have been very much alike, in looks at least. In his conversations with his father Hadden adopts two personalities containing two voices. They are very much alike, and yet they have very little in common at times. Hadden, the author, the storyteller and the son, is an actor who can divide himself superbly into two similar men who are so very much alike and yet so different that you always know which one is speaking. And you always want to know more then they are saying.
The book John Hadden has written offers more detail about the separate yet intertwining lives these two men have led. The play, though, offers a look into personalities, how they differ, how they merge and combine, how the experience of one informs the work of the other. The stories Hadden tells in his play pile into a mound so high and so thick that the small details disappear into a butter churn, like heavy cream would and eventually come together in a stream of chat, a variable chant of "bongo, bongo, bongo" without ever rhyming "congo" without ever voicing a single "no, no, no, no."
John's father was obviously a fascinating human being who could talk up a storm without telling anyone much, yet still enthrall you with his tale-weaving. John can tell you everything with his eyes, his face, his body and his voice. What he reveals in this play, this one hour experience, is how hard it was to know the man who fascinated him.
This is an experience unlike any other. John's father was a man who was clearly unusual and his relationship with his son was obviously as unusual as the man himself. Seen in a one-performance showcase at Oldcastle Theater where John is starring in a play about a man whose delusional self mirrored his true passion for life and adventure, "Shipwrecked," this two character, one-man play will be available to regional audience again at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield on June 18, at Shakespeare & Co in Lenox on August 26 and at Gloucester Stage in Gloucester, MA on August 27. You can find more about it at maskedman.org.