There’s something very special about the way theatre can present a world we have never experienced ourselves.
With nothing standing between the stage and the audience, no screen, no CGI and no editing, a play is uniquely positioned for truth. Biopic, narrative storytelling is at the heart of even the most seemingly fictional play, a playwright always brings themselves when they write. But when the play is at its most raw, when one character is standing on stage telling their own story with no embellishments, no theatrics, no fear and no expectations, that’s when the pure magic happens.
“Outlaw” has all the elements of this most magical of arts. Adapted from the best selling book “Exile on Front Street: My Life as a Hells Angel…and Beyond,” this version of George Christie’s life not only gives us the background of his 40 years in the infamous biker gang, it goes even further than the book and brings us up to date, chronicling the years of his life post gang, including his family and how he was able to thrive outside of a life that most of his contemporaries didn’t survive.
George Christie is quite the storyteller.
With stage presence, grace and quite a bit of charisma he lays out his story for us on stage, not shying away from the danger and the consequences of an existence firmly outside the law. He vividly and eloquently spins the tale, from babe to present day with a boldly cinematic prose and a subtle poetic turn of phrase. His intelligence is clear and unsurprising, no one who lived this long and this hard is a dummy. But what gave me pause was the complexity of his philosophy and his motivation as well as the men he rode beside for 40 years of his life.
It would be easy for those of us who have lived firmly on one side of the law to caricature and dismiss those who have not. George Christie gives us a glimpse into a world and the men who populate it that is unabashedly full of flaws and pain and destruction and yet he somehow shows us a perspective and a truth that gives it all reason…without the obvious cliche of glamorizing it.
For almost two hours I sat and listened to his life, as he paced the stage and spun his history effortlessly before us. What I came away with was an admiration for the man he is today and an understanding of the life he has unapologetically lead. He has faced his own demons and regrets and he probably still does every day, we can see the struggles on his face, but he has truly and deeply lived his life and very few of us can be very sure of that same statement in our own lives. This is a tale well worth the telling and for an audience, it is exceedingly well worth the seeing.
Bravo! I highly recommend “Outlaw” at the Whitefire Theatre. The run is fairly brief, so get a move on!
Performed by George Christie
Running August 2 - August 24, Thursdays, Fridays at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm
The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 91423