Charles on Fire Mar 25, 2011

By Jim Demetre

If there is another performer in our midst who can weave together wildly disparate forms of language and sudden tonal shifts quite like Charles Smith I have never encountered them. A singer, multi-instrumentalist, comic wit and adept stage practitioner of the avant-garde, Smith conflates all measure of spoken address with contemplative song in his one man show My Arm is Up in the Air to create a humorous, poignant and refreshingly off-putting work of art. Smith is a master of comic timing whose ability to fuse discordant temporal modes is no mere demonstration of talent but a successful effort to create something akin to our own fragmented state of consciousness. From statements justifying the displacement of native peoples to the banter of faded child actors, from songs with words of Emily Dickenson to those of Pat Boone, Smith has produced a sharp, melancholic and entertaining work that is as apt a reflection of these times as any your likely to see on stage.