?The Illustrated Bradbury? is a mesmerizing ride

Aubrey Canfield

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You might know Ray Bradbury from novels such as ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes.’ Aside from being an internationally acclaimed novelist he is also an author of short stories, screenplays and poetry. ‘The Illustrated Bradbury’ is a collection of some of his most memorable works.

Tobias Andersen, creator of Captain Beatty in the original ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ stars in the one-man play and single handedly brings each of Bradbury’s characters to life in mesmerizing wonderment. The Fremont Theatre in South Pasadena is an intimate venue, with no more than 50 seats. The stage was almost completely bare except for a stool and a tree constructed out of iron and chicken wire; adorned with various hats and props. The audience pondered in eager anticipation what might await them.

Andersen casually strolled out onto the stage, but even motionless he was captivating. He began to describe the illustrated man, and it was as if I could see this character materialize in front of my eyes. His commitment to each of the many characters he plays is astonishing. Andersen believes in his characters and so we the audience believe it – when he casts a mimed cigarette to the floor, one can hear it.

Bradbury’s stories are fantastic, apocryphal and optimistic. Once of the pieces ‘The Inspired Chicken Motel’ was the story of his family during the Great Depression. Traveling across country, the family struggled to stay afloat. The piece couldn’t be more timely or appropriate for these tough times, embodied by the phrase, ‘rest in peace, prosperity is near.’

‘The Illustrated Bradbury’ is more than a collection of entertaining tales. It is an insightful social commentary and an appropriate homage to one of the most profound writers of our time.

‘The Illustrated Bradbury’ is playing at Fremont Centre Theatre Feb. 21 to March 8. Student tickets are available for $10 at www.plays411.com.