Charm City Fringe Review: ‘One Man Apocalypse Now’

Martin Sheen Always Wins

I’m just going to get this out of the way up front, because time is of the essence. Chris Davis’ One Man Apocalypse Now is playing at the Charm City Fringe Festival and you should go see it. Like now. If you hurry, you can probably make it to tonight’s show with time for a quick meal beforehand. Really, you’ll thank me.

Chris Davis. Photo by Maria Shaplin.
Chris Davis. Photo by Maria Shaplin.

This clever one-man show begins just like the movie-version of Apocalypse Now. Davis, in Martin Sheen’s role, lies on a mattress while The Doors’ haunting “The End” sets the mood. For the first couple minutes, it’s just like watching the film. Davis has done his homework and all of his movements are accurate reproductions of the opening scene of the movie. He mimes looking out through the blinds and seeing the city; he lip syncs the first lines of the show while Martin Sheen’s voice laments, “Saigon… shit. I’m still only in Saigon.”

As cool as it was to see such a faithful recreation of that scene, I was relieved when Davis broke from that and spoke. He tells the story of Apocalypse Now, but the movie merely provides a framework for an even more evocative – and comedic – experience. Davis portrays, by my count, 11 different roles over the course of this show. Each character is easily distinguishable from the others. Davis’ voice, manner and physicality change to suit the individual who is speaking. Additionally, he tells you. Comically, he will announce it, saying something like, “I’m Laurence Fishburne. Only 15 when filming this part, I went on to make many great movies – even receiving a nomination for the Best Actor Oscar in 1994.”

With self-referential asides nodding to Baltimore and the Fringe Festival itself, Davis introduces a goodly amount of levity into what could have been an unceasingly dark show. He also includes personal stories that are sometimes funny, sometimes painful, right alongside tragic scenes of war and the mango-munching of Marlon Brando’s insane Colonel Kurtz. Davis impressively navigates the audience to and from these highs and lows, creating an immersive theater experience. Favorite bits for me include his pitch perfect portrayal of the ubermanic Dennis Hopper; his rendition of calmly detached Martin Sheen, a man with an unsettling mission; and his accurately-choreographed embodiment of the sexy Playboy bunny who dances for the troops, complete with bikini top and pouty lips.

One Man Apocalypse Now is unlike any other show you’re going to see this year. The way that Davis intertwines relevant autobiographical stories into this greatest hits reel of iconic scenes adapted from Apocalypse Now is truly masterful. Whether you’ve seen the film or not, Chris Davis’ One Man Apocalypse Now will be a funny, dark, poignant, playful and well-spent hour of your life. Who among us couldn’t use one of those right about now?

Running Time: Approximately 60 minutes.

 Chris Davis. Photo by Jen Brown.
Chris Davis. Photo by Jen Brown.

Chris Davis’ One Man Apocalypse Now plays through November 13, 2016 at the Fifth Annual Charm City Fringe Festival, performing at Church & Company – 3647 Falls Road, in Baltimore, MD. Tickets, and required Fringe buttons, can be purchased at the box office or online.

Only Three Performances Left:
Friday, November 11th (TONIGHT!) at 6:45 PM
Saturday, November 12th at 8:00 PM
Sunday, November 13th at 2:00 PM

Get Your Fringe On! Fifth Annual Charm City Fringe Festival Preview by Patricia Mitchell.

Charm City Fringe Review: ‘The Shoemaker’s Holiday’ at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory by Patricia Mitchell.

Charm City Fringe Review: ‘The Pink Hulk: One Woman’s Journey to Find the Superhero Within’ by Patricia Mitchell.

Charm City Fringe Review: “Yo, You Be Trippin!’ at Saint Mark’s Lutheran Church, Downstairs (Coming).

Chris Davis’ actor website.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here