What comes to mind when you think about William Shatner? Likely it’s his work on “Star Trek,” a reputation for being petty, or some really ‘out there’ music he recorded. Maybe it’s his penchant for over-acting. My perception of William Shatner was limited to these popular notions until I saw “Shatner’s World” at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA.
Shatner recognizes he’s at the waning phase of his life as he recounts all the things he’s grateful for. “Shatner’s World” provides an insider perspective – the audience learns not just what Shatner thinks and feels, but why. Revealed on stage is an artist who knows himself, and for all the negative things one could say about him, his brutal honesty – with himself – is remarkable and commendable.
His only major physical props are two tables and a rolling chair. The focus is all on Shatner.
His humor’s a bit all over the place, ranging from a tasteless opener about people from the Middle East being terrorists to a punchy jab at hopeful demagogue Donald Trump. His humor ranges from wry, dry, to physical.
I forgive most of it (not the anti-Pakistani thing, though) because he describes the reasoning behind his ways. His ‘punnier’ humor, for example, comes from an early love of vaudeville. His ‘overacting’ derives from his background in theater.
Shatner’s Career and Family
When Shatner describes his career, family, and horses, his sincerity is touching. I’m a fan of nostalgia, and through use of audio visual cues, Shatner really gives us a feel for what it’s like to live in his world.
The Hate for Shatner and the Big Goodbye
People have a lot of reasons to hate this guy, but the performance really did let me into his mind a bit. Ultimately, Shatner will die with wonder, and it’s plain that’s his final goal. He knows he’s fortunate to live in a world of make-believe, constantly in awe of the theater and appreciative of the parents who, despite being worried, permitted him to follow his dreams and stumble into a life as Captain Kirk. That’s what most people don’t get about him. He’s come to terms with it, but have his fans?
Shatner reveals that he’s okay, after all this time, for being remembered as Captain Kirk, and that it’s been quite an honor to serve. As a fan who has heard conflicting reports on his feelings about this, it’s a comfort to hear. He’s about the same age as my grandmother – she passed away just a bit ago – and to hear his reflections and conclusions means it’s going to be easier for me as a Star Trek fan to accept it as his big goodbye.
As an actor and creator, Shatner’s ability to construct an autobiographical performance with such sincerity was not what I expected from “Shatner’s World,” but it was definitely rewarding.
Say what you will about the guy, he’s a master storyteller revealing some useful traditions.
Upcoming events from the Philadelphia area Keswick Theatre include a screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show and performances by Hot Tuna, Arlo Guthrie, Melissa Etheridge and more. See their website for more details.
Images published with permission: press materials from performance venue.
Disclosure: The author received a complimentary pair of tickets to this show for review purposes.