Shatner's World: We Just Live in It January 20, Reynolds Hall.
Titling your one-man show Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It suggests a bit of hubris and more than a little ego. But c’mon, we’re talking about William Shatner here, a man who’s spent the majority of his life having fun with his iconic image and making his audience feel like it was always one step ahead of him. He can be forgiven for a little self-aggrandizement. And besides, after seeing his one-man show at the Smith Center, it’s hard not to argue he’s led one hell of an interesting life.
Using only his body language, a chair on coasters and the occasional video or audio clip, Shatner recounted his 82-year odyssey, from his youth in Montreal to his rise to fame as an actor, from his personal struggles to his love of horses, from his musical endeavors to his relationship with his family. For the most part, Shatner proved a masterful storyteller, which isn’t surprising—after all, as Shatner pointed out, he was trained as a classical Shakespearean actor in Canada and was Christopher Plummer’s understudy in Henry V (his big break came when Plummer got sick).
His anecdotes held the audience from start to finish, including his adventure trying to drive a rabbi to his temple as the sun went down (reasoning with the rabbi that the already-setting sun was “man-made” because it went behind a building, so it didn’t count) and buying a pine-box coffin for his father’s funeral and telling his sister, “I got a great deal on the coffin,” to which she responded, “Was it used?”
Videos were used sparingly, but always to good effect. George Takei at Shatner’s celebrity roast, Shatner paying an awkward tribute to George Lucas (get it?), and a few clips from his various TV shows and movies all got huge reactions. While discussing his resuscitated musical career and playing a few clips from his critically praised Has Been, Shatner plugged his newest album, Ponder the Mystery. Shameless, yes, but no one seemed to mind.
Not everything worked—Shatner’s one attempt to inject a bit of Vegas humor fell flat, primarily because he mispronounced Pahrump as “PAW-rump.” But he quickly recovered, explaining, “That’s called pandering, and it won’t happen again.” Bill, feel free to come back to Vegas and pander anytime you want.