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Bee Man Cole Studio
Remaining Performances: Sunday, July 20 @4pm Thursday, July 24 @9pm Friday, July 25 @9pm Sunday, July 27 @2pm
They say: “Our food supply depends on bees. In this one-man play, Lorenzo Langstroth – scientist, minister, author, abolitionist, raconteur and manic-depressive – shares his experience of 19th-century life, his observations and love of bees, and insights into the natural and spiritual worlds. His 1851 invention of the modern beehive changed agriculture forever.”
Glen’s take:Let’s get the bona fides out of the way: writer/performer Marc Hoffman is a Director of the Maryland State Beekeepers Association. Okay? The man knows an Apis mellifera from an Apis cerana. That’s probably why Bee Man is at its best in those moments when Hoffman’s expressing Langstroth’s — and presumably his own — enthusiasm and admiration for the li’l buggers. Hoffman seems confident and completely at home discussing the finer points of apiculture, as when he proudly walks the audience through the design and construction of Langstroth patent beehive.
That’s the stuff that takes up most of Act I, and it’s never less than interesting. Acts II and III, however, move away from wide-eyed bee-geekery to concern themselves with Langstroth’s later years, when he was fighting over his patents and his legacy. Hoffman’s less on his game here: he seems always to be searching for his next line, and indicates Langstroth’s emotional difficulties by shouting a bit. The founder of modern apiculture was a man of many facets, and the script duly hits each one — minister, scientist, manic-depressive, etc. — but it does so in a perfunctory, whistle-stop manner that never quite resolves into a three-dimensional picture.
What it feels like, of course, is the stuff of school assemblies and on-the-hour performances at your local science museum. That’s not a dig — as a dutiful profile of an interesting historical figure, Bee Man succeeds. But as a piece of theater — much less fringe theater? Bee Man … is a dutiful profile of an interesting historical figure.
See it if: You were going to anyway, given the subject matter.
Skip it if: You appreciation for the one-man biographical show has been forever tainted by Bob Odenkirk’s Lincoln (“I was born in a log cabin. MADE OF LOGS!”).