Saturday, June 7, 2014

Melting in Madras and Monocular Man at Factory Theatre June 26-29

Overcoat Theater Presents a Solo Double Feature

by H.R. Britton
by R. Jim Stahl

The Factory Theatre June 26-29th  
Thursday-Saturday at 7pm
Sunday at 3pm
791 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02118
Entrance to Theatre is on Northampton Street
(through the parking lot)
Tickets: $20 at the door.


In 1995, a wide-eyed 23-year-old H.R. Britton traveled to South India to explore meditation, yoga, and music. But his quest for spiritual clarity took a detour when he became seriously ill. Melting in Madras: Seeking, Singing and Sickness in India uses character work, humor, and live music to tell the story of his pilgrimage with all its confusion, inspiration, and beauty. Directed by Rajeev Varma, one of New Zealand’s leading Indo-Asian actors. 80 minutes.

WHAT A SHOW. H.R. BRITTON IS A GREAT STORYTELLER. . . He was standing in front of the audience, but really he had gotten into our heads.”                         — Peter Hajinian, 2010 Minnesota Fringe

“A LOVELY PIECE OF WORK . . . It will move you to tears, to laughter and to wishing you could leave on the next plane out.”                                                            — Lauryn Kronick, 2011 Ottawa Fringe

“THE BEST SOLO SHOWS ARE THE SIMPLEST. CUE ‘MELTING IN MADRAS.’ Armed with just a guitar tuned to the ragas of the Indian musical scale, H.R. sings and creates characters with small gestures and simple strumming, leaving [the] audience to create the rest.”                         — Nathalie Allen, 2013 NYC Fringe

In the Woodstock era, everyone’s making bombs — including our one-eyed, two-fisted hero: Monocular Man! R. Jim Stahl boldly takes on race, privilege, and manhood with short autobiographical stories about a sensitive but resilient boy’s unusual life, featuring a fireworks mishap, boxing lessons, and an art thief. Alternating between comic and poignant, Monocular Man is set against the political and social upheaval of the late 1960s. Directed by Kate Lohman, former Artistic Director of Rhode Island’s critically acclaimed Sandra-Feinstein Gamm Theatre. 30 minutes.

“A SWIFT, FUNNY, AND ULTIMATELY TOUCHING coming-of-age story . . . With gentle good humor and a keen intelligence, Stahl explores race relations in America, the demise of his parents’ marriage . . . A wonderful piece of theater.”                                     
          — Curt Columbus, Artistic Director, Trinity Repertory Company

“A BEAUTIFUL PIECE. Cathartic, sad, funny, hopeful, personal and brave.”
           — Jack Feldstein, Author, The Fantastical World of Scriptwriting

“WONDERFULLY LITERARY . . . Stahl’s writing is rich and totally engaging.” 
          — Bob Jaffe, Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director of the Berkshire Playwrights Lab

H.R. Britton has been telling stories across the U.S. and Canada since 1997. “Melting in Madras” was chosen for the 2013 Fringe NYC Encore at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. H.R. is an active member of, has hosted many Boston-area story slams, teaches storytelling in public schools and hosts the monthly 1st Person Plural storytelling show at Club Passim in Cambridge.

R. Jim Stahl has performed “Monocular Man” at the New York Fringe Festival and the Trinity Rep. He won the Greater Boston All Star Story Slam and was Best Storyteller and Audience Favorite at Philadelphia’s First Person Festival of Memoir and Documentary Art. Stahl represented Boston/New England in the first National Story Slam in Chicago.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

SOLO IN THE CITY: The FringeNYC Encore Series
and Overcoat Theater present
"Melting in Madras"
Written and performed by H.R. Britton
Directed by Rajeev Varma

Thursday 9/12 @ 1pm 
Friday 9/13 @ 8:30pm

at Baruch Performing Arts Center
on the campus of Baruch College in Manhattan 
East 25th Street between Lexington & 3rd Aves. 
Tickets are $18
     online at
     by phone at 646-312-5073
     or in person at the box office at 55 Lexington Ave. (enter E. 25th St. between Lex & 3rd) 

A reflective and funny story of seeking, singing and sickness.  In 1995 a young naïve American traveled to India to explore yoga, meditation, and music for a year, intending to have a transcendent experience.  But after three months, his quest for enlightenment took a detour when he became ill.  

Drawing on storytelling, character work, and live music, Melting in Madras vividly paints portraits of the people he met, and tells the tale of his pilgrimage with all its confusion and beauty.   One of India's main daily newspapers, The Hindu,  called Britton’s previous work “a moving and humorous account of an India less traveled.”   BackStage has called him “an engaging storyteller ... one honest, likable guy telling his story with unaffected simplicity.”


"If you like good storytelling and want to see a well-done solo show about a subject that now seems cliché after Eat, Pray, Love,  yet is renewed here by the humility of the storyteller, then go see Melting in Madras.  It may sound familiar: American goes to India to seek enlightenment and finds it where least expected (in this case in a hospital after falling ill), but fortunately the writer and storyteller, H.R. Britton, has enough self-awareness and distance from the material (the events he describes occurred in 1995), that the story has a power for the viewer as well as the teller.  He also has a lovely voice and uses song throughout the piece."
    -- Julia Lee Barclay, at FringeNYC 2013

"H.R. Britton is a marvelous storyteller and an exceptional performer! He escorts the audience through his adventures in travel from America to India where he finds himself unexpectedly in Madras. Britton's portrayal of everyone he encounters is remarkable. His use of accents brings the various characters to life. Cleverly, he complements the various accents with specific mannerisms which is essential in keeping the characters' stories' straight. Such mannerisms were quite believable and were delivered in a friendly, sometimes comical, way while always remaining respectful to the culture. Music keeps the stories lively ...  weaving through show offering yet another fun and interesting way to keep the audience engaged.  Traveling to Madras with Britton is a treat!"
    -- Kristin Hardwick Hi! Drama  at FringeNYC August 19, 2013 

"Britton engages us with his journey ... to India, and paints the picture so well that you feel as though you are there with him. Carrying his guitar on his back throughout the entire show, Britton complements his monologues with enchanting minor strums. He does play a few melodies, adding to the relaxing, zen environment that he creates with tales of his experiences practicing yoga, taking music lessons, exploring Southern India and eventually falling ill...  His portrayal of the multitude of characters he encounters while in India is spot on ... Britton’s eyes and facial expressions are a huge draw for his mix of serious and humorous stories... Melting in Madras is a lovely piece of work ... it will move you to tears, to laughter and to wishing you could leave on the next plane out."
-- Lauryn Kronick, Fully Fringed  (2011 Ottawa Fringe Festival)

“What a show.  H.R. Britton is a great storyteller ... Between the music, his impersonations of teachers, the verbal details of the adventure, and the tastes and smells of India, he pulled us in with each detail. He was standing in front of the audience, but really he had gotten into our heads.”                                              

Audience Reviews:

I loved this came out of left field to take me on an incredible journey. I felt like I was right there with H.R. Britton as he portrayed his spiritual journey to India, was turned literally inside out, and emerged ... His characterizations were subtle and wonderful, and his descriptions vivid and intense. I could smell the spices in the market, hear the sounds of the streets ... I could feel the wind in his hair and the wind in his soul as he travelled... It was a simple show with no bells and whistles, save what he provided with his own voice and guitar accompaniment, but this bare-foot performer took me on a most profound ride. 
-- Ellen (Audience review, Montreal Fringe, June 2011)

The following reviews from the Minnesota Fringe can be found at: 

"Melting in Madras" is an absolutely beautiful solo show with great attention to detail, a driving pace, a basketful of memorable characters (all created without props, costumes or any trappings except H.R.'s formidable natural cleverness, facility with accents and sense of humor), and a gentle thematic mix of irony and compassion -- a young man engaging in every form of physical purification gets horribly sick; in his quest for enlightenment and oneness, he ends up isolated and alienated from his body; but in this vulnerable state, he develops bonds with the people around him he might not have otherwise found. That dry analysis, though, doesn't remotely capture how phenomenally engaging "Melting" is. It's worth going for the music alone!
-- Amy  (Audience review, Minnesota Fringe, August 2011)

With only his shoe-less feet and a guitar as backup, H.R. Britton manages to wrap your mind in khadi and draw you into his tale of travel and illness without hope of snapping out until the end. While the story doesn't change locations geographically, he still portrays the colors of India and the scattered, panicked mind-set of a Westerner trying to unravel the culture of India perfectly. Having spent almost 10 months traveling in India, his show made me miss it intensely ... If you have done any traveling in the east, this show is a must see. If you have any inkling of traveling in the east, this show is also a must see.
-- Sophie  (Audience review, Minnesota Fringe, August 2011)

A Whirlwind Ride! H.R. Britton's fast-paced storytelling and gorgeous guitar work whips you along for the ride in this tale of his travels and resulting sickness. Britton is a wonderful performer; masterful in that he paints the scene for you not only through his words, but also through his accompanying guitar strumming, which really made the story for me. Because of the combination of music with his words, I felt like I was riding along on the little rickshaw or on his bike with the "aaaOOOga" horn, through ...  the marketplace. And his impressions of the people he met along the way immersed me further into the experience.
-- Courtney  (Audience review, Minnesota Fringe, August 2011)

This was a lovely show...the story was intriguing, and H.R.'s energy was incredibly infectious. 
-- Mark  (Audience review, Minnesota Fringe, August 2011)

Oh what a night! Just got back from seeing H.R. in "Melting in Madras: Seeking, Singing and Sickness in India, 1995” - a brilliant piece of theatre and storytelling...Raj Varma's direction was amazing.  Folks, check it out ... this is storytelling and theatre at its best! I loved this show and hope to go back on Sunday for a second helping!!!! 
-- Barbara (Audience Review, Times Square International Theater Festival 2012)

Review from Sunday Magazine section of one of India's main daily newspapers,  The Hindu, from previous monologue “From Madison to Madurai” which was performed in Chennai and New Delhi in December 2009:

‘H. R. Britton's “From Madison to Madurai” was a welcome interior landscape with an American gaze on India defining the gazer. The idiosyncrasies of communication between high tenets of philosophy and street culture with a Woody Allenesque persona perched on his imaginary shoulder offered a moving and humorous account of an India less travelled ... ‘

--Vayu Naidu,  The Hindu (Magazine Section)
As part of the review of the Park's New Festival
Sunday, December 27, 2009