Saturday, October 8, 2016

Two One Man Shows

Charlene Baldridge
Photo by Ken Howard
Two One-Person Shows

The Trump Card

I have tried and tried again to write about The Trump Card, which I saw on the first night of its brief run (October 4-9) at the Playhouse. I loved the intimacy of the Mandell Weiss Forum as I heard creator/performer Mike Daisey’s opening line: “You, my friends, are fucked.”

Photo by Matthew Murphy

After that – the best line in the entire shebang – it was downhill for me, perhaps because I have OD’d on the election run up and am alternately dismayed and terrified by what I see. Just as Daisy's imagined audience. And that was before the video release October 7.

At any rate, Daisy, a large man who wipes his face incessantly with a white handkerchief, continues as Trump through October 9. You may laugh a bit, as did I. Or you may love it, just as a very critical, very politically involved friend did. or 858-550-1010.

A Honeymoon Abroad

The most profoundly funny and serious discovery this week was a notice in the New York Times that told of a well-respected lesbian activist who’d been widowed some years ago. Now in her mid90s, she recently remarried. The brides have plans for a long honeymoon abroad. If Trump gets elected they will stay four years.

 Old Globe presents The Lion

Another one man show, this one a musical written and performed by Benjamin Scheuer and titled The Lion. The show's title comes from a song Scheuer’s father sang to him and his siblings that asked the question, “What makes a lion a lion?”

Although their relationship was difficult – nothing Scheuer did seemed to satisfy his mathematician dad or make him proud, especially the C-minus in Math – the pubescent Scheuer was profoundly affected when, in the middle of a weeklong cold shoulder, his father died, leaving him with no opportunity to apologize for a note he’d written.

The musical takes onlookers through Scheuer’s move to New York City on his own, just as soon as he could escape his brothers and sister and mother. Her grief depressed him.

The goal is to grow into a well-adjusted man despite his dead father still looking over his shoulder, judging everything. A failed longterm love affair and serious illness are involved before resolution, a thunderous and brilliant moment of amplified rock music titled “The Lion.”

The story is told almost entirely in music – a kind of accompanied recitative – with Scheuer utilizing six guitars placed around the stage, plus one carried onto the recording studio set designed by Neil Patel for the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, which is in the round. Scheuer wears a subtle body mike in addition to the mikes placed around the stage. Even then, some spoken words were lost when he faced away.

Fathers and sons are a common theme. Scheuer’s father, seen through a boy’s eyes, was harsh, but he was loving. When Scheuer first evidenced interest in the guitar, his dad made him a banjo out of a cookie tin and rubber bands (“Cookie-tin Banjo”). The boy wanted to play like his dad, who gave him his first real instrument. “He showed me the G Chord, and I never looked back.”

Benjamin Scheuer
Photo by Ursa Wag
The music is undistinguished, and so is Scheuer’s voice, a medium sized, straight-ahead baritone. But what is splendid is his stunning, intricate guitar work, an entire melodic language in his fingertips. His song lyrics are also fine, and he’s a most attractive man and a good actor. I was enthralled and moved by his simply told 75-minute story (a perfect length) and impressed by the fact that he never let the experience sink into bathos. No doubt the sighing man behind me would disagree.

“The Lion” continues though October 30 or 619-23-GLOBE

Small note: In the theatre mags they call her “the award winning Broadway coloratura.” No way. It is, and always was, merely a wide vibrato.

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