TEACHING DETROIT REVIEWS & AWARDS
- Edmonton Fringe 2004 (titled Teaching Shakespeare 2)
- Saskatoon Fringe 2004 (titled Teaching Shakespeare 2)
- Ottawa Fringe 2004 (titled Teaching Shakespeare 2)
- Winnipeg Fringe 2002 (titled Teaching Shakespeare 2)
- Wildside Festival 2002 (Centaur Theatre, Montreal)
- New York Fringe 2001
- Toronto Fringe 2001
- Montreal Fringe 2001
***** (five star rating)
In this extraordinary sequel to last year's Teaching Shakespeare, Keir Cutler revisits his failed, narcissistic, alcoholic college professor on the edge of a nervous breakdown. He addresses the audience as students at a community college in which he's been forced to teach since he's lost tenure and explains that today we will explore a work of Shakespearean importance: his own novel, Detroit.
The book's contrived premise reveals glimmers of beauty and hope even as it drowns in its own artifice and caricature. It's the professor's great attempt to reach out to the world and it, like everything else he's done, fails miserably. As he flips through the pages, picking out passages he thinks will impress even his loathed Adult Education students, the professor breaks down into a pathetic defense of his own inadequacies. We laugh because, it's funny, because it's uncomfortable to watch an educated man dig his own grave, and because we're desperate to disavow the parts of us that identify with his failure.
Erika Thorkelson, See Magazine, Edmonton
Cutler's portrait of the decayed Michigan metropolis is an exorcism . . . Teaching Detroit (Teaching Shakespeare 2) deploys laughter to keep at bay something the play's author fears most he might become. Cutler's confused lit prof character looks like the alter-ego nightmare of its creator.
The snake-bit academic we first met in Cutler's previous one-man show, Teaching Shakespeare, is back in the classroom, trying out the lectern as a bully pulpit, a headshrink's couch and sales platform for his unpublished novel.
Sans Bard or tenure, he's further down the hopeless path of his teaching career, sunk to community-college level, suffering in front of a class of adult-education students.
His subject is his own rejected but life-affirming novel, an autobiographical contrivance about impotence, Detroit and getting dumped by his wife.
The novel's distraught hero journeys to America's murder capital packing suicidal hopes of meeting death halfway.
Cutler has a Ph.D. in theatre and studied playwriting at the National Theatre School. He's also lived in Detroit. Unlike so many fringe-circuit scribes, he writes as if he's read something besides TV Guide. Yet all that erudition is put to good use.
When the professor character drops his pants in Teaching Detroit, it is done strictly in literary context and purely for dramatic effect.
Cutler has laid claim to a unique vision, at once scholarly, riotous and irreverent, sort of like lit critic Harold Bloom with dick jokes.
Matt Radz, Montreal Gazette, January 16, 2002
Keir Cutler struck gold with his character of a college teacher whose fascination with Shakespeare, mixed with his own inability to conduct a half-decent class, made Teaching Shakespeare a big hit with Fringe audiences across North America . . . Teaching Detroit is no different . . . Cutler's command of the stage is unwavering, even when the teacher drops his pants in the classroom.
Kamal Al-Solaylee, EYE Weekly, (Toronto) July 12, 2001
Winnipeg Free Press review, titled Teaching Shakespeare 2 here