Ryan Knowles has a powerful presence and a fluidity with the spoken word that makes his solo show at the Gene Frankel Theatre, Dig and Be Dug: The Gospel of Lord Buckley, an entertaining experience, even if parts of the writer/performer's script could still use some work.
The piece, directed by David Kraft, begins with Knowles as a somewhat drugged out host welcoming the audience to his apartment for an homage to the comedian Richard Myrle Buckley (aka Lord Buckley), that is structured as a religious rite. This allows Knowles to fill the audience in on some basic expository details about Buckley, but it's somewhat of a clunky device, and the voice Knowles chooses for this narrating character is a little grating. The biographical information imparted also lacks depth, and could be fleshed out a little further.
Things pick up immediately the first time Knowles takes on the persona of Lord Buckley, who was well known for translating some of the greatest works of literature into the language of hip. The performer gives us a taste of this, with a short excerpt from Buckley's version of Marc Antony's speech in Julius Caesar, that starts out with "Hipsters, Flipsters and Finger-poppin' daddies / Knock me your lobes."
The remainder of Dig and Be Dug, which runs just over an hour, has Knowles singing a couple songs and performing his reinterpretations of some of Buckley's routines -- including a story about The Nazz (aka Jesus) and my personal favorite, "God's Own Drunk," a tale about a man, a bear, and a still. There's a lot of potential here, and Knowles' dynamic performance whets the appetite for a longer and more fully realized version of this show.