Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Confidence Man

"You're an addict," teased my first Docent when I told him I'd just seen The Confidence Man for the third time. I confessed to being tempted to go again, since even three times wasn't enough to see every scene in the show and maybe not even to see part of every story line.

Inspired by Herman Melville's last novel, and including some language and characters from the original, this Confidence Man is set mainly in our time, interweaving stories of art cons, publishing cons, financial cons, religious cons, internet cons, and maybe a few I haven't seen yet.

They unfold throughout a retired lighthouse tender, the Lilac--which is the real star of the show--and you're more likely to follow any one story if you let one of the six Docents be your tour guide.

If instead you elect to just wander at will on the Lilac, you may have an experience more like the deeply unsatisfying one that Wilborn Hampton described in his New York Times review.

Perhaps playwright Paul Cohen should have called his work something other than The Confidence Man--"Confidence," say--so as not to disappoint those like Hampton who expected an adaptation of Melville's work, instead of something new that attempts to address 21st century cons.

The advantage to you of the negative review is that, if you choose to go, it will improve your odds of getting in off the waiting list.

To get on it, show up a half-hour before showtime: 7 and 9:30 today through Saturday.

The Lilac is docked at the north end of Pier 40. The Confidence Man is free, but donations are welcome, and beer is available for $5.

For further information see and

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