Unlike the planet-dominating Skynet of the Terminator movies, it’s unclear as to exactly when William Shatner became self-aware. But from the moment it happened, this world has not been the same. And for about 90 minutes Friday night, the Red Bank area audience will be offered an opportunity to plug into the old-soul consciousness and galaxy-spanning ego that lords over Shatner’s World.
Hosted at the Count Basie Theatre, it’s an encore presentation of a one-man show that briefly beamed down to Broadway in 2012: a soliloquy of storytelling, star-kissed commentary and stand-up philosophy spawned from Shatner’s many on-stage appearances at Star Trek and sci-fi conventions (a circuit that he memorably lampooned in a 1986 SNL sketch).
Come to think of it, the exposure to Trekker culture (and its obsessions over a long-cancelled TV series that represented but a blip on the Canadian-born actor’s long career) might have provided that pivotal spark of self-awareness within the toupee’d head of the thespian who once entertained notions of being a Shakespearean trouper — and the movement’s demonstrated power to reignite a “failed” franchise surely impressed him that, for better or worse, his was a destiny and a legacy tied to that of Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.
All of which means that everything that came before — his starring role in the world’s only feature film in the language of Esperanto; his 1968 album The Transformed Man and its astonishing covers of Dylan and the Beatles; whatever this and this and this are — was rendered with the utmost sincerity and clarity of vision.
Just as his turns on Twilight Zone must have convinced producers that Shatner was the one actor who could hold his own against scene-stealing woolly gremlins and bobble-headed fortune machines, there was always a touch of the edgy, far-out, “where no man has gone before” final frontiers of acting in the man’s style. Enough, it turned out, to elevate Star Trek to a dimension beyond something like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and present to varying degrees in everything he did, from further series adventures (TJ Hooker, Boston Legal) to TekWar sci-fi novels and comics, more albums. Not to mention the extended afterlife of the Trek franchise, which allowed him his only stint (to date) as director of a major studio feature film.
Surprisingly, there’s relatively little Star Trek in Shatner’s World (or at least in its previous touring incarnation). What attendees will be treated to are largely humorous, sometimes heartbreaking stories from his 84 years on this planet, as well as select film clips, some inspirational thoughts, and tantalizing glimpses of the larger-than-life personality that somehow never managed to endear itself to his Enterprise crewmates.
For fans of this one-of-a-kind figure, Shatner’s World is pure dilithium — and tickets ($59 – $149) are still available here.