For anyone looking for something different to do this week, it might be worth checking out “Whiskey with Twain” brought to the Outer Bank by the Bryan Cultural Arts Series. The performance is Tuesday evening at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kitty Hawk.
There have been a number of shows featuring Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain’s real name) with white hair and dressed up in late 19th century fashion, but what seems to really set this one apart is the actor playing Clemens, Ryan Clemens, is a direct descendant of the writer.
The title for the show is a great reminder of who and what Twain was… and he was many things. A riverboat pilot—that’s where he found his name, the call of “mark twain” means there’s two fathoms of water; a skilled typesetter; a journalist of considerable reputation…one thing he was not, though, was a teetotaler.
Mark Twain liked his whiskey and he wasn’t shy about declaring it, writing, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”
Twain, or Clemens, was a complex man and some of his quickest quotes show a mind that runs in a different direction. He was always cynical about how fervent people could become in their beliefs. “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please,” he wrote.
And organized religion came in for some particularly scathing criticism. “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company,” he remarked.
The gold standard in Mark Twain performances were the one man shows Hal Holbrook did in the 1970s and 1980s. It will be interesting to see how well a direct descendant of the master does on the stage.