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Ben Franklin: Unplugged 

Josh Kornbluth looks like Franklin -- and has concerns about his own Founding Father

Wednesday, Nov 17 2004
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The thing about Josh Kornbluth is that he really does look like Ben Franklin: the longish hair, the glasses. One thing he learns, though -- during the course of this one-man show about the revolutionary Franklin and his royalist son, the governor general of New Jersey -- is that he's not alone. Franklin has as many imitators as Elvis. To avoid becoming another Franklin hack, then, Kornbluth makes the pilgrimage to the Franklin archive at Yale (a school that once rejected Kornbluth) and discovers enough about the Founding Father's relationship to his unrevolutionary son to brood neurotically and comically over his own father. Anyone who's seen some incarnation of Ben Franklin: Unplugged since Kornbluth began to toy with the idea in 1998 -- or anyone who's seen his other monologues, Love & Taxes or Red Diaper Baby -- knows that Kornbluth père was a Communist revolutionary who wanted his son to grow up and overturn the capitalist system. Josh's failure to do so has been a rich, funny, and sad source of solo theater. Kornbluth is not a strong enough actor to bring wildly different characters to vivid life (he only sketches "Claude," a Franklin-papers scholar, and the other odd, bookish people in the story), but he has a strong enough presence of his own to make Ben Franklin worth revisiting.

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