“My name is Knott. Doug Knott. And I am the last of the Knotts.” With that plainspoken declaration, “Last of the Knotts” begins its idiomatic trek inside the psyche of a self-proclaimed hipster.
Raw, fluid and eloquently quirky, author-performer Knott’s unsparingly honest solo treatise on his avoidance of fatherhood conjoins vintage performance art tactics to the sort of descriptive specifics usually associated with classic short stories.
At first, it appears that this “one-man comi-tragedy” could be mannered, given Knott’s idiosyncratic vocal attack, equal parts William S. Burroughs and saxophone. But as soon as he introduces his Southern belle mother and alcoholic Florida circuit judge father, all bets are off, and Knott is off and running.
Under the cagey direction of Chris DeCarlo, Knott, whose skill at instant characterization mirrors his remarkable gifts as a writer, holds the house in a death grip. Whether sharing Mom’s advice -- “Never have a family. You’re better off alone” -- or describing soul mate Caroline -- “Her skin was as soft as a fresh glazed donut” -- this monologist virtually defines the form.
Judiciously picking narrative elements most critical to his thematic objective, Knott’s saga zigzags between twisted hilarity and arresting gravitas, as fascinating as the upstage mural that depicts key motifs. Drugs, underground clubs and Caroline’s 7-foot boa constrictor figure in the mix, punctuated by a superbly judged soundtrack of Top 40 standards.
And the climax, which deals with Knott’s soul-wrenching decision, is the kind of unfussy coup that lands in the forebrain and stays there. It delineates ‘Last of the Knotts” as a tickling, touching portrait of considerable reach and impact.
“Last of the Knotts,” the Other Space Theatre at Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th St., Santa Monica. 8 p.m. Fridays. Ends March 22. $25. (800) 838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com. Running time: 1 hour.