Review: "47 Chairs" Recounts Four Stories from One Life

47 Chairs

Written and performed by Ziggy Klett

Presented at The Barrow Group Performing Arts Center

520 8th Ave., 9th Fl., Manhattan, NYC

April 26-27, 2024

Photo source: Media | Ziggy Klett
47 Chairs, the title of a solo show from Michigan-based stand-up Ziggy Klett, refers to a nun's admonishment when he misbehaved in elementary school about the limited spots in heaven, but this image could perhaps also stand in for the luck or karma to which the show alludes, the way things can take a good turn despite unlikely odds. Klett shares several of these good turns, which occur in the context of struggles imposed by family, romance and marriage, and more, including what the show perceptively divides into "wrong choices" (which can be fun) and "bad decisions" (which can derail one's entire life). Over 72 funny, poignant minutes comprising four stories titled "Cancer," "5th grade," "Fast Daters," and "Alma Mater"–echoed in the quartet of chairs that begin the show in a pile on the stage and serve as occasional props–47 Chairs offers an engrossing experience that, like the childhood first love that it touches on, is over all too quickly.

During one of the show's stories, Klett talks about discovering the power of being able to make others laugh, and that ability is on full display in 47 Chairs, even when he is talking about the times when he wanted to give up on his cancer treatment or about his brilliant, rage-filled, emotionally and sometimes physically abusive mother. Klett wrings a lot of humor not only from events themselves but also from his liberal employment when discussing them of striking, often hilarious similes and comparisons. A superb storyteller, Klett evinces a flair for detail that engenders a vivid sense of place, whether a midwestern winter or the run-down upstairs room of a restaurant where he tries out speed dating, and individual character, from the women he meets to the medical personnel he encounters to God himself. With the show's deft admixture of comedy and sincerity, acuity and pathos, by the time the performance ended on a deeply moving note, Klett had brought the audience to that enthralled hush that bespeaks complete immersion. While there's a lot of fun to be had, seeing 47 Chairs is far from a wrong choice.

-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards


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