Over the course of two hours inside a small dressing room Val Kilmer ages 20 years. His hair turns a crazy, curly white, a strong mustache sprouts on his upper lip, and deep bags appear under his eyes. Eventually the actor is nearly unrecognizable—instead, he’s Mark Twain and ready for the one-man show “Citizen Twain.”
Kilmer later puts on a white suit and adopts a strong Southern accent. Sometimes you may even see him sitting in the audience before the show, drinking a glass of whiskey. Eventually he will get up and make his way to the stage.
“Val Kilmer is a creative force of nature,” said Executive Director. “There is something magical about his utter embodiment of the characters he portrays. In this case he melds into Mark Twain, and the result is sheer delight. It is a startling work of wonder that blurs the distinctions of Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain and Val Kilmer, inviting the audience to muse upon the otherworldly possibilities of the soul.”
Exploring the famed author’s wry humor—from politics to death, love, money, watermelons, God, racism and cats—Kilmer channels the wit and wisdom of the man considered to be the world’s greatest storyteller and the first stand-up comedian. Twain was a raconteur, and Kilmer presents his show in the style of a conversation.
This play, as written by Kilmer, illuminates the depth of Mark Twain’s fiction and regards it as a striving for divine truth, an entirely overlooked dimension of his yearning. Kilmer’s hilarious, raucous portrayal of Twain, positions the character as a reluctant, recalcitrant, and downright defiant prophet whose undeniable skills as a story-teller and wordsmith compels the Almighty to call upon Twain to deliver a Sermon on Love, to help us through our daily challenges. Kilmer’s Twain aggressively attempts to escape the responsibility of the Almighty’s calling, only to find himself thwarted at every turn by divine interventions that range from slapstick to sublime. Not even Mark Twain, it seems, can avoid his eternal fate.
The words of the play are mostly Twain’s, incisive, elegant, and memorable, but the performance is vintage Kilmer, uncompromising, risky, and intense, a voyage to the center of the soul. He delves beneath the surface of Twain’s persona in ways that less daring performers would shy away from. Kilmer’s Twain is so human that it’s painful, a creature of vanity, regret, and longing whose outer swagger masks a troubled conscience and whose still-unmatched celebrity disguises a wounded, stricken spirit. Among those Twain hurt with his scathing, bitter wit was the 19th-Century religious author, Mary Baker Eddy, whom he attempts to make peace with, acknowledging Eddy as an equal in the grand pageant of our national history. Will Eddy forgive him? Can Twain forgive himself?
Citizen Twain is a three-dimensional spectacle, alive with laughter, music, and reflection. It takes us into a mind as vast and vivid as any our culture has ever produced. The result is a dream-like river of words and images that Twain and Kilmer join forces to help us navigate, carrying us far from home and back again and crossing the boundaries dividing past and present.
It’s a truly interesting experience to behold Val as Mark Twain. Theses 90 min of your life might be the most intense enlightening experience of your life. So don’t just breeze in and out of town just to see the show. Take this opportunity to stay the night at one of our Laguna Beach rentals and walk the quiet on the beach; reflect on the mind of one of best Americans’ in history portrayed by one of the best actors of our time.
“Mark Twain traveled the world sharing his love of America and humanity, and part of discovering Twain is to do that with this show.”explains Kilmer.
For more information on this performance and to purchase tickets visit The Laguna Playhouse – Citizen Twain.