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R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe

American Repertory Theater (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
January 14–February 5, 2011

We know him as Bucky.

Buckminster Fuller — American inventor, designer, writer, engineer, and utopian futurist — was a benevolent genius who wanted to save the world.

In a one-man show at the American Repertory Theater, actor Thomas Derrah makes Bucky adorable, dynamically delivering a motherlode of ideas in a performance that balances ecstatic optimism against lugubrious poignancy. Derrah succeeds at communicating even the most complex and esoteric notions by putting his heart first, making clear that Bucky’s intellectual fireworks were fueled by love for the environment, his family, and the rest of humankind.

While the ART stages Bucky’s life sparely, using a couple of chairs, a desk, a few tiny geodesic dome–like baubles, and a sometimes-successful multimedia backdrop, the script could have been tightened. A second act felt wrong in a performance meant to honor a man who wanted the world to do more with less.

Image above: Actor Thomas Derrah as Buckminster Fuller. Photo: Marcus Stern.