ALL THE RAGE at the Barrow Group

Martin Moran

 

 

By Ron Fassler

 

Martin Moran is a master storyteller.

That really should be all I have to write for a review to make anyone go see All the Rage, a new production of his one-person show, which won him the 2013 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Solo Performance. His prior piece, The Tricky Part, received a special citation at the 2004 Obie Awards and, over the past fifteen years, has taken him all over the country and the world—Canada, South Africa and India.  In addition, he is a noted Broadway presence, who has appeared in Spamalot, Cabaret, Titanic, Bells Are Ringing, Big River and How To Succeed among other Off-Broadway and regional theatre stage credits.

The stage is where he works; where he lives and breathes, and when you see him in these solo shows of his own writing is when you really see him. With no characters to hide behind, what you get is the true essence of who Martin Moran is, and audiences are all the richer for it. For again, he has stories to tell. And in the telling, he is mesmerizing.

Having seen The Tricky Part (and reviewed it here last year https://www.theaterpizzazz.com/the-tricky-part-martin-moran/), I was looking forward to All the Rage. I did no reading up on it to try and suss out the meaning behind its title, but suffice it to say, it deals with something all of us have to figure out each and every day we’re alive: how to manage anger. And in these troubling times (which I am not alone in feeling have become ever more disturbing since the night of November 8, 2016), All the Rage is now suffused with a bit of extra fury, even if some of us detour there on our own, without any direct guidance from Moran.

 

 

A great deal of what has fueled his journey is the sexual abuse Moran suffered as a teenager at the hands of a once-trusted camp counsellor; a man older by many years. Not going into any great detail about the incidents that led to those horrible times in this play, Moran instead confronts his life as an adult, seeking enlightenment in order to offset the wrath his memories can bring up for him without warning in a PTSD-fashion. Though a spiritual person, he doesn’t use that as a crutch in performance so that the language of his show never veers into self-help pablum. No, he’s too good a writer to lean on heavily cliched lingo and the like. What we get is deeply personal, raw, and yet somehow always entertaining. Moran will forever be fascinated by the notion of “forgiving the unforgivable,” and manages to maintain his sense of humor in spite of the awfulness of it all. As one example he demonstrated, when often asked “Where is your anger?” his reply is, “That pisses me off.”

Moran speaks in his show how “nice is okay, but anger is awesome,” citing that the first line of the The Iliad contains the word “anger.” Also, that to be truly free, you have to get in touch with your anger, though not be subsumed by it. And in all this, he is aided admirably by his director and collaborator (and the co-founder and co-artistic director of the Barrow Group), Seth Barrish. I particularly enjoyed the staging, which is intentionally a bit fussy and adding to its charm, since it seemingly comes out of who Martin Moran is as a person.

All the Rage is playing a strictly limited engagement through October 5th. You owe it to yourself to see it not only for the example it sets for one-person plays, but to celebrate the emotional high upon which you will exit the show after 80 minutes (as you descend the three flights of stairs from the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at 312 W 36th Street). Although no worries… there is an elevator.  www.barrowgroup.org

 

 

 

 

 

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