Swiss actor Pascal Ulli successfully adapts Jim Carroll's "The Basketball Diaries," bringing the author's tale of his misspent teen years to life on the stage.
By ROBIN EISGRAU
In this one-man show, accomplished Swiss actor Pascal Ulli portrays the
young Jim Carroll during his days as a promising young teenage basketball
player and scholarship student who becomes a heroin addict.
As a book, "The
Basketball Diaries" is an engrossing, colorful read as Carroll's flair for
language blooms on every page. The film version of the book (starring
Leonardo DiCaprio and released in 1995) was an anachronistic mess. As
crafted for the stage by Mr. Ulli, "The Basketball Diaries" is a vivid,
gripping, long hard look at what happens when one becomes addicted to
Ulli is very effective as the smacked-out Carroll; speaking in a
dreamlike slur, his eyes rolling as his hair falls over his forehead. He
also sweats like a junkie (though maybe that's just the air-conditioning situation
in the theater). Ulli's Carroll comes across as hip and smart, streetwise
beyond his years as he matter-of-factly describes his adventures hustling
to get dope money.|
He paints detailed verbal pictures of getting high in
parks and avoiding the cops. Ulli even cooks up something in a spoon, ties
off his arm and prepares to inject himself when suddenly we hear a banging
on the door and a booming voice announcing that the police are here. Ulli
revels in some of the book's best stories such as Jim and a drug buddy
finding out that they just copped some Ovaltine and Jim's not-so-good acid
trip where he goes to the Museum of Modern Art.
Ulli is a very gifted actor
and he takes command of the stage here. If you've read the book, you'll find
that this production captures the vibrant flavor found on the page. If you
haven't read it, Pascal Ulli's "The Basketball Diaries" may make you want to
pick up a copy.
|AUGUST 20, 2001|
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