Wordplay Is The Order Of The Day In Midnight Company’s “Title And Deed”

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Joe Hanrahan in “Title And Deed” at The Midnight Company. Photo: Liz Henning

Will Eno is a master wordsmith and Joe Hanrahan of The Midnight Company is a master storyteller. So this one man show, “Title And Deed,” is a marvelous hour or so with wordplay and a bit of mystery that draws you in like an ant to a picnic.

The forlorn but happy- or is he?- “foreigner” wanders on stage with a bag and announces we are in an airport. He is traveling, as he so often does- or does he?- and decides to impart some wisdom as he waits for his next destination. The reason there are so many questions in this description is because he has so many questions. In fact, a recurring question he seems to be fascinated with is “What is it all about?” He manages to keep us guessing by questioning himself- and us- as he rambles through stories of hope and disappointment and the quest for commitment.

He jumps from subject to subject but often returns to an earlier subject as he talks and even interacts with a few members of the audience. He describes himself as “unhomed,” a word he has evidently made up to describe his trek from one destination to the next- sometimes with no thought in mind why he’s going to this place or that. But, as a philosopher of sorts, he manages to keep us intrigued and waiting for the next pearl of wisdom to fall in our collective laps.

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“Title And Deed” with Joe Hanrahan at The Midnight Company. Photo: Liz Henning

Ideas from his past- his younger days- include a lesson he learned from wandering away from his mother- “don’t ever get too lost for too long.” This advice seems to serve him well in present day as well. The quintessential philosophical question may come late in the play when he offers an off-hand remark- “In some rooms, no corner is corner enough.” The more you think about that one, the more complex your life becomes.

As the master of the one-man play, Mr. Hanrahan has all the right moves and inflections- knowing just when to pause- even for many seconds at a time- as if he is pondering his next move in this chess wordplay he’s playing with his audience. It’s a brilliant performance that not only astounds, but tugs at several emotions along the way. We’re used to that with Joe Hanrahan’s volume of work, but this one has the overwhelming script of Will Eno to impact the performance even more.

Sarah Whitney has tweaked his monologue with expert movement- it’s just him on stage- and a sense of what this script is trying to impart. Bess Moynihan has designed the simple set in this film/photography studio that successfully throws shadow images of “the foreigner” along the back and both sides of the background, enhancing the power of the words and movements. Amy Greenhalgh has provided musical arrangement and her expertise on violin along with the tuba- almost comic in the context- of Jeff Hoard. Elizabeth Henning has provided stage management and has also taken the photographs that enhance this review.

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Joe Hanrahan in “Title And Deed” at The Midnight Company. Photo: Liz Henning

Words- there’s nothing like them when they are written in beauty and wonder like they are in “Title And Deed.” Will Eno’s script and Joe Hanrahan’s performance make a winning combination that is nothing short of dazzling. It runs through June 24th. Find The Midnight Company online and get tickets now for this amazing show and amazing performance.

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