SALT LAKE CITY — Meaningless is a poignant, one-man show by Rodney Brazil, in which he chronicles the book of Ecclesiastes from the Bible. Rodney opens the performance with a personal story about how his dad committed suicide by burning his house to the ground as his mother was recuperating from surgery. Brazil applies make-up throughout this portion, and announces that he will begin the show and that the audience is welcome to interpret the story however they want.
The play begins with ocean noises, the static of a radio, and music. Brazil wears a vest, long brown coat, and purple fedora as he pushes up against the wind. There is no set, only a collapsible chair and a large duffel bag full of props that are utilized throughout the performance. Rodney, as the King of Jerusalem, hangs up a large, cloth tapestry that shows a setting sun, a chalice, coins and a crown along a winding road. Throughout the play, he keeps saying that things are meaningless and all that matters is enjoying food, drink and find satisfaction in one’s work. Anything else is as meaningless as chasing the wind – a mantra repeated throughout the play.
There is a naturalistic use of sound, including birds chirping, flies buzzing, and thunderstorms brewing. Toward the end of the play, the lights dim then shift into blue (the change of lighting in the play) as a storm rages, and then it begins to rain. It makes one wonder if Rodney is outside, as he delivers his recurring insights about the meaningless of life — “The wise will be despised if they are poor” — and uses his various props (such as a chalkboard) to further illustrate his points.
Meaningless is a wonderful show, even for those unfamiliar with the Bible, and Brazil is a pleasure to watch. This show is so bare bones, with just a performer, some props, and sound effects to keep him company. But it all works so well. Meaningless is definitely a one-man show that is one of the highlights of the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival.