Brian Copeland, writer, actor, and KGO regular, seems to have been everywhere these past few years, with extended runs of Not a Genuine Black Man, Scion, The Jewelry Box, and just opening again at the SF Marsh, The Waiting Period.
This run (which originally appeared on stage in 2012) isn’t a surprise to Copeland’s multitude of Facebook fans, who follow his periodic appeals to fund more ongoing performances of this work. Born out of Copeland’s struggles with depression and suicide, The Waiting Period is targeted specifically at fellow members of that club and those who love them.
Lest I get ahead of myself, the title The Waiting Period refers is the mandatory ten days that must elapse before a California buyer can take lawful possession of a firearm. This show is Copeland’s day-by-day account of that time, barely punctuated by Chinese takeout.
Copeland on stage is exponentially better than anywhere else.
Copeland is a funny, funny guy, and his good humor doesn’t fail in the face of his subject matter. His description of walking into the gun shop – only marginally more competent at selecting a weapon (as the clerk kept referring to the firearm) than politicians are at shutting up – would be worth the price of admission alone. His performance Sunday was all the more striking because no one could be faulted if the day’s unbearable heat (far worse for Copeland on stage) made focus difficult.
Those whose point of familiarity is limited to Copeland as a radio or TV personality will appreciate Copeland the sole stage artist. Copeland on stage is exponentially better than anywhere else. He’s got more heart here – and is less predictable. The complexity of Copeland never quite makes it to radio.
Suicide is never too far from anyone’s mind in Silicon Valley, especially here in Palo Alto where most of us are either nursing scar tissue or harboring a worrisome suspicion that we’ve created a coal mine for so many canaries. However, this almost obsessive focus on teen suicides makes it easy to forget that the highest suicide rates are those for folks over 45: an age more proximate to that of folks like Robin Williams… and Brian Copeland.
The Waiting Period runs through October 25th at the San Francisco Marsh.