WHAT THE PRESS IS SAYING:
“Berry brings Moon’s artistry to life.”
— Robert Hurwitt,
San Francisco Chronicle
08-14-2017 | STEVE MURRAY — For All Events
Keith Moon: The Real Me. Written and Starring Mick Berry. Directed by Nancy Carlin. Musical Director Frank Simes. Songs by Pete Townsend. Marin Theatre Company in Association with Z Space.
Mick Berry, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Keith Moon, takes to his drum kit and tears into The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly”. It takes an excellent drummer to tackle the licks of one of rock’s greatest icon’s and Berry is more than capable at re-creating Moon’s unorthodox style. A stellar cover band provides The Who’s backtracks as Berry explains the thought process around his unique percussion style. With multiple angle camera shots projecting onto an overhead screen, the audience becomes a part of Moon’s world. But Keith Moon: The Real Me is much more than just a concert recreation; Berry channels Moon’s persona chronicling his rise to stardom, descent into multiple addictions and untimely demise. It’s a tour de force performance that had the audience on its feet on multiple occasions.
We meet Moon as an 18 year old; dissatisfied with the boredom of working class life and hell-bent on making a go of drumming as an escape mechanism. Following the advice of his mentor, drummer Carlo Hill, Moon joined up with Daltry, Townsend and Entwhistle and The Who were formed. Their chart smashing single “Can’t Explain” began their meteoric rise to rock n roll legends. Money, women, sex and drugs quickly followed. Moon talks about his star pals (Oliver Reed and Mountain’s Leslie West), providing funny anecdotes that helped cement Moon’s reputation as a prankster. He never “thought about mortality, immortality maybe”; and this attitude led to a career full of drug excess, alcoholism, domestic abuse and overdoses. With Moon there were no rules; his dreams and nightmares were included in the tableau that played out.
Berry is incandescent as Moon, creating a complex character that is both repugnant and charming. With the rock star lifestyle there are excesses galore. We see a Moon that is trapped by the public need for his lunacy; the womanizing, the drugs, the smashing hotel rooms, the horrible car accident that claimed the life of his chauffeur and friend. Throughout the show is a common thread of Moon challenging the audience to be authentic, highlighted by a bang up version of The Who’s “Who Are You”.
The musicology research is spot on, Berry’s acting as close as can be to a real historical figure. It’s great to hear classic Who material like “My Generation”, “I Can See for Miles”, “Bargain” and “Don’t Get Fooled Again”. The first person anecdotes present a complicated and tragic individual. Kudos to the production team who’ve combined to create a multimedia experience full of energy and concert-like excitement: musical director Frank Simes (who appropriately is the MD for The Who), Brendon West for sound and video design, Anthony Fusco’s dialogue coaching, director Nancy Carlin and the amazing music production teams.
Keith Moon: The Real Me is not just for rock enthusiasts and Who fans. It’s a well-crafted dramatic biography that anyone who follows pop culture can enjoy. We create our icons, vicariously living through their exploits, eventually assisting in some of their destructions. Keith Moon was another sad casualty of the fame he sought and the demons that are part of the package.
Performances run through September 10th, 2017
“…Berry really becomes Moon…”
— Tony Lacey-Thompson,
“…have I got a show for you.”
— Chad Jones,
“Entertaining and Sympathetic”
— Mandy Moon
“Berry is a great drummer, and
he nails Moon’s multi-layered,
off beat style...”
— Ben Marks, KQED
Review by Patrick Thomas — Talkin’ Broadway
Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Keith Moon is arguably the greatest rock drummer ever. His loud, passionate playing and complex fills have been the inspiration for generations of drummers who have come after. Moon is also the model of the "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" bad boy, where the act includes trashing hotel rooms, throwing televisions in swimming pools, partying with groupies, and ingesting mass quantities of pills and liquor. Except, for Moon, it wasn't an act, it was his life. In the world premiere (of an updated version) of a one-man show, Keith Moon: The Real Me Bay Area actor/drummer/performer Mick Berry takes us inside the mind of Moon to reveal the insanity (and artistry) of the man known as "Moon the Loon."
Produced by Z Space, but playing at Marin Theatre Company's black box Lieberman Theatre, Keith Moon: The Real Me takes the audience on a precarious journey that is the highwire act of rock and roll stardom. As Berry (as Moon) puts it early in the show, being a rock and roll star is a bit like playing "reverse Russian roulette." Instead of one bullet and five empty chambers, it's five bullets and one chamber filled with a bouquet of roses.
But getting to the bouquet? That's the challenge, but it's one that Moon apparently embraced with every fiber of his being. "If you can't go inside yourself to destroy yourself, you'll never make it," he says. Destroy himself Moon does, dying from an overdose of a medication prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol he believed he needed to play with his signature abandon. (Moon spent a large portion of his adult life under the influence of champagne and brandy—or any other intoxicant he could lay his hands on.)
To tell the story of Moon's madness/genius, Berry takes his audience on a journey through the music made with his bandmates in The Who (if you didn't already know that Keith Moon was The Who's drummer, this show probably isn't for you!), spending a large percentage of the show at a massive (nine drums, including two bass drums and six cymbals) kit. Berry is a powerful, skilled drummer, and recreates (with almost perfect accuracy) Moon's brilliant drumming on hits like "Baba O'Riley," "My Generation," and "Won't Get Fooled Again." Though a bit tight at the top of the show at the performance I attended, by the time he got to "I Can See for Miles," Berry's playing brought the crowd at the intimate Lieberman Theatre to its feet in recognition of his thrilling, intense rhythmic patterns.
Thanks to the placement of cameras in and around and above the kit, the audience is able to watch every aspect of his playing from multiple angles on a projection screen upstage. Two other screens display a variety of historical images of Moon, The Who, and various records and album art.
Between songs (all of which were rerecorded covers by highly skilled musicians and a Roger Daltrey soundalike), Berry as Moon relates a touching, if ultimately tragic story of a man obsessed with being the greatest rock drummer—while simultaneously sabotaging his efforts with his antics and addictions. Berry touches on all the clichés (which in Moon's case happen to be true) of smashed televisions and hotel toilets destroyed by cherry bombs, M-80s, and even sticks of dynamite. He also includes anecdotes of a more humorous nature, including some of Moon's wackier escapades with best friend (and fellow alcoholic and hellraiser) Oliver Reed.
Berry returns several times to the metaphor of reverse Russian roulette. It's an apt one, as Moon's life seemed to consist of one ex/implosion after another—passing out on stage during concerts, breaking his wife's nose (three times), drunken driving with tragic consequences, and more—tempered by the bouquet of stardom and artistic genius that was The Who's music. "All my dreams come true," this Keith Moon states with a tragic wistfulness, "including the nightmares."
— Geoffrey Grier,
SF Recovery Theater
“THIS is art. THIS is talent. THIS
is musical history and theatrical
genius in one package!”
— Loretta Janca
SF Bay Area Director/Actor
“Berry is a powerful, skilled
drummer, and recreates (with
almost perfect accuracy) Moon's
— Patrick Thomas
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