TSD Theatre Review: Don’t Waste Your Time with the Abysmal “Wilt Chamberlain Remembers”

by Clifford Kensington Stuffed Shirt

Wilting Away. The rotting corpse of basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain brought audiences to their feet – and right out the exits.

PHILADELPHIA (Special to TSD) Shows that open in Philadelphia often stay in Philadelphia and die a lonely, ghastly death – and for me, the death of Wilt Chamberlain Remembers couldn’t come soon enough.

I had the great misfortune of being caught in the crossfire – an innocent bystander of sorts – of a horrific crime. I was witness to the offensive injustice that was the hoop legend’s one man show last evening at the Walnut Street Theatre.

This dreadful self-directed, self-serving, steaming pile of poo that passes itself off as performance art lost me from the opening curtain when two slovenly, uneducated, union stagehands wheeled the seven foot center’s coffin onto a sparsely dressed stage amid a smattering of polite applause. It should be noted the applause came from the balcony where drunken guests of the city’s sports radio station made themselves all too obvious in their bargain basement blue jeans and tired, loose fitting sports apparel.

Admittedly, the hackneyed, dramatic crutch of the coffin may have worked if Chamberlain was still alive and merely projecting his own demise. But the NBA legend has been deceased for over eleven years. Somehow sitting in an uncomfortable theater seat clearly in need of repair since the Johnson administration watching a rotting corpse housed in an oversized casket bathed in a dim blue spotlight for two hours as pre-recorded atonal strains of Gyorgy Ligeti’s Le Grande Macabre trudges through the archaic sound system leaves a lot to be desired – namely a plot.

When one becomes aware of his own breathing while watching a performance, the odds are the script needs to be tightened a bit.

In Wilt Chamberlain Remembers, Wilt remembered nothing. There were no glimpses into what drove him on the court, no reflections of being a towering voice during the Civil Rights Movement, and no peek into his storied sexual conquests. The play, along with Wilt, just sort of laid there.

I regret I can’t even recommend this play as a cure for insomnia or other sundry sleep disorders as I’ve done in the past for much more ambitious presentations – mainly because the overwhelming bouquet of Formaldehyde and decaying flesh makes slipping into even a light sleep almost impossible.

A total waste of time.


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