Mark Twain’s America

Now at the International Theatre

On The Town | Veronica Buckley | June 2012

Alan Burgon in Mark Twain's America (Photo: International Theatre)

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." So said Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen-name of Mark Twain, to a bemused reporter a hundred and something years ago. Twain made sure he wouldn’t die when he died:

Apart from the immortality of his characters, a thing no writer can be sure of, he left instructions that his autobiography should not be published for a century after his passing. In 2010, the first part of it finally appeared, and "the father of American literature" came to life again.

If you don’t have time to read an eventual three large volumes, even of Twain’s wise and witty words, you may want to check out the current "entertainment" in the Porzellangasse. It’s a compilation of the great man’s own tales, delightfully staged, with brief readings linking the different scenes.

Twain was a failed silver miner before he turned to writing, but reports of his demise in that line may have been exaggerated, too, for this show is full of shiny little nuggets.

Here is Tom Sawyer with his unforgettable whitewashed fence, tricking his friends into doing the work for him, and paying him for it into the bargain. Here is Huck Finn, accidental hero, saving the life of a runaway slave; here is Twain himself in the Civil War, shooting a stranger dead out of plain inexperience. It’s clever, and funny, and moving.

Jack Babb has shaped Twain’s stories and Herbert Moulton’s biographical notes into a very nice entertainment.

Through 27 June

Tuesdays & Wednesdays, 19:30 

International Theatre Vienna

9., Porzellangasse 8

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