Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mike Daisey Never Fails in 'How Theater Failed America'

The theater is dead. Long live theater.

That is how the fearlessly forthright monologist Mike Daisey sees it in his one-man-band ballyhoo How Theater Failed America, hilariously snarking on everything from arts funding to NYTimes reviewers to complicit Joe's Pub ticket holders. With a manic, occasionally maniacal energy and dead on analysis of the modern day mainstream arts scene (with the tongue-in-cheek lament of 'Why can't we be more like Sweden?'), Daisey leaves no truth unturned. And the basic truth in Daisy's world is that theater - and by extension our nation - is so devoid of community that artistic evolution is all but impossible.

Frankly, Daisey doesn't point out anything new. Let's face it, the death bell for theater has been ringing at a deafening pitch for decades now. But the sign of a great artist isn't always exploration of the next new thing, but rather the uncovering of a universality through startlingly fresh means. As a performer Daisey delivers, diving in with everything he's got - intellect, humor 'til it hurts, hulking physicality and sweat to the point of dehydration. And as an audience, we sit transfixed and wondrous.

Armed only with a water glass, Daisey's armchair philosopher orator has so much heart we willingly partner on his rant. With everything you expect in a one man show - personal humiliations, suicidal tendencies, and nostalgic role play (his actor portraying a masturbating bishop being the most memorable) - Daisey is entertaining to be sure. But that isn't enough for a master artist, so he just doesn't stop until he makes you think. And lament. And leave the theater changed.

Personally, I've been trying to get into Daisey's monologuing class for months now, and it always fills up lickedy split. So until then, I'll get my Daisey on Monday's at Joe's Pub until May 11.


Kyle the Girl said...

Hey, Mary! Any chance you'll be checking out the NY dance parade on May 17? I'll be there (dancing in it), and from the sound of it it's just the kind of cool New Yorky happening that belongs in your cool New Yorky blog.

hooverfactory said...
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TN Girl Moving To New York City said...

I know this is off the subject but thanks for all of the useful info., esp re: apts in NY. I'm moving there Feb. 09 and it's been very helpful! Thanks!