There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
“To take adequate care of all people everywhere, humanity needs no money,” says the sternly eccentric figure near the outset of his lecture on the Crystal City stage. “It needs physical and metaphysical accounting.” Indeed that’s what D.W. Jacobs’ longish homage to R. Buckminster Fuller will go on to offer—both a physical and metaphysical accounting of the pioneering futurist’s theories and his accomplishments, from the invention of the geodesic dome to an exegesis of Einsteinian relativity that intrigued ze old man himself. And just as you may have dozed a little in your early-a.m. philosophy classes—or at least sat, gazing cowlike at the lectern, as professors strung perfectly recognizable words together into sentences of stupefying impenetrability—so you may find yourself slumping in your seat at Arena Stage, vision dimming and lids lowering, as poor Rick Foucheux attempts to sell Bucky’s understanding of human beings: “Man is a supergalaxy of galaxies of slipknots sliding sum-totally along in a complex of reciprocal slip-knot principles upon a complex of associable, limitably tunable, and sensorially apprehendable in-knottings of slippable principles.” Now, Foucheux is a likable presence, and he’s working hard to limn Jacobs’ extended exercise in esoteric hagiography with a few signifiers of personality—intonations, glances, fidgets, and so on, all calibrated to suggest a man who’s seen both satisfactions and frustrations over the course of a long career and witnessed sadnesses both personal and geopolitical. The staging, particularly in a sequence that lets Foucheux get his hands on various tetrahedrons and octahedrons and icosahedrons—the “basic structural systems of the universe” that Fuller manipulated with such dexterity—provides a few moments of visual and physical joy. And Jacobs builds just enough lightheartedness into the script to jolt the audience periodically from the longueurs induced by all that earnest philosophizing—“Only 10 people in the world understand Einstein,” a publisher tells Fuller dubiously; “I looked up the list, and you’re not on it.” It’s still a tall order of an evening, though. Experienced playgoers will tell you it’s axiomatic that very few solo performances truly require an intermission—and though R. Buckminster Fuller was indeed a fascinating figure, the show that bears his name is in the end another proof in support of that theatrical philosophy.