NY Theater Review By Marcina Zaccaria
“King Kirby” at The Comic Book Theater Festival is a warm, thoughtful play written by Crystal Skillman and Fred Van Lente.
Through a framing device of a Sotheby’s auction, the audience is introduced to the man who had an astonishing impact on the world of comic books. The script is packed with information about the artist who brought to life characters from “The Avengers” and “Captain America.” It is a swift 75 minutes, filled with personal conversations, moments of joy, and debates about how to keep characters relevant and popular over time. It has particular resonance when you look at the man and the times in which he lived.
Steven Rattazzi plays the prominent artist, Jack Kirby. Not a moment is missed as we see Kirby rising through the ranks on the Lower East Side in the 1930s to later becoming a famous artist at Comic Con in the early 80s.
Rattazzi is grounded, sincere, and empathetic as the lead character, Jack Kirby. Rattazzi is known to comics fans as the voice of Dr. Orpheus from Cartoon Network’s “The Venture Bros.” He has appeared recently in Soho Rep’s “Marie Antoinette” and CSC’s “Galileo.” He is a strong lead actor, supported by a top-notch ensemble. Always surrounded by the important people in his life, Ratazzi unflinchingly portrays the honored figure in the comic book world. Timothy McCown Reynolds plays Fox (and others) in the drama. Joseph Mathers plays Joe (and other). Nat Cassidy stars as Stan (and others), and Amy Lee Pearsall stars as Roz (and others).
The actors are carefully choreographed on stage by Director John Hurley. Hurley keeps the show moving at a quick pace, utilizing the clear, minimal stage space in a classy way. The actors glide on an off stage, and details like Kirby’s drafting table are anchored in space.
Costumes by Holly Rihn bring us back into the time period of the show. The look of the show is crisp and mannered. Scenic and lighting design is by Olivia Harris who provides images on the back wall of some of Kirby’s most famous comic book covers that were auctioned at Sotheby’s.
It’s a great idea for the Comic Book Theater Festival at The Brick Theater with plenty of information about the process of creating “Captain America,” “Thor,” “The Fantastic Four,” and “Iron Man.” Even those who are not followers of the comic book industry would find it easy to enjoy this show.
The Comic Book Theater Festival is running at the Brick Theater until June 29. “King Kirby” has remaining shows on Saturday, June 28 and Sunday, June 29th. Tickets are $18 and are available at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/934831. The Brick is located at 575 Metropolitan Avenue (between Union Avenue and Lorimer Street) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For additional information, visit the Brick’s website at http://www.bricktheater.com.