**** (out of 5)
Edinburgh Fringe audiences should be more than familiar with Chris Grace by now. The 50-year-old Chinese-American actor has crossed the pond for several years as a member of the perennially popular musical improv group, Baby Meets Candy, or their myriad of merry musical spin-off shows such as Shamilton. He’s also appeared on TV in a recurring role on NBC’s Superstore. But audiences have never seen him like this before.
Like this means not only as himself, but also as the actress Scarlett Johansson (who may have inspired this production with her starring role in 2017’s Ghost in the Shell, which whitewashed the Japanese manga source material by portraying Major Motoko Kusanagi as the “identity-less” Mira Killian). As Grace is quick to point out, more than once: “This is not a hit piece.” It’s also not exactly a tribute, either. It is, in fact, a multi-layered performance with several starts and stops, interruptions for commentary that spiral into a swirling whirling dervish of self-doubt as Grace eventually wonders about his own identity and motives, retraces his own personal and professional steps, and arrives at some humbling realizations about how his family, acting teachers, and even one commercial director may have made his world a little smaller than he had ever imagined. There’s also some stand-up, costume changes, wigs, and funny movements.
Chris Grace: As Scarlett Johansson runs through Aug. 28 at Assembly George Square Studio Five.