Scott Joplin, the “King of Ragtime,” an all-too-short life -- he died, of complications resulting from syphilis, at 49. His was not an easy life, either. Far from it, as we learn in Robert Barry Fleming’s one-man show Scott Joplin’s New Rag, presented by Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company. In narrative, screen-projections, voiceovers and (not enough) music, this 90-minute production at downtown’s 10th Avenue Theatre relentlessly points out Joplin’s hardships – from the bigotry to which he was subjected, to the tragic loss of the woman he loved most, to his struggles in the cutthroat music business. Though Fleming works hard and is an imaginative performer, this show has a work-in-progress feel about it, and it’s largely a joyless affair.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat