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Walken, Sarandon Have Their Act Together in 'Who Am I?'

August 12, 1993|MARIA D. LASO

Noted actors Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon enjoy small, exquisitely wrought performances in "Who Am I This Time?," a little-known American Playhouse production.

Walken plays Harry Nash, an easily frustrated introvert with a big identity crisis and one saving grace (or burden, depending on how you look it at it): He can act. Oh, can he act! He is a chameleon of the stage, turning into the romantic heroes of his small town's amateur productions. Men weep and women swoon. But when he steps off stage, he becomes a plain vanilla wafer, an invisible man, or one who wishes he could be.

Sarandon, to be better known later as the sexy and brash older woman in "Bull Durham" and "White Palace," is Helene, the shy, vulnerable newcomer who somehow finds herself encouraged to audition for Stella in "A Streetcar Named Desire," opposite Harry as Stanley, of course. And the awkward bumblers have met their match.

On stage, role-playing, their passion blossoms. But between rehearsals, they revert to their socially clumsy selves. In the end, it's a creative solution by Helene that keeps the action from ending when the curtain comes down.

The comedy, based on a short story by Kurt Vonnegut, is directed by Jonathan Demme, who lets this delicate story unfold in its own way and captures that secret desire to be in the spotlight, to be someone else for a little while.

"Who Am I This Time?" (1982), directed by Jonathan Demme. 60 minutes. Not rated.

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