NY Theater Review by Paulanne Simmons
I am not a fan of solo shows. And I am especially not fond of solo shows that are about the performer’s personal journey into the past to solve his or her personal issues. But every once in a while an exception comes along: a solo show that I absolutely love. Such a show is Michael Thomas Walker’s Bubba, currently part of the New York International Fringe Festival.
In Bubba, Walker takes a 90-minute journey back to his southern roots in order to discover who his father really was. Walker also dances, sings and portrays all the characters in the story. Given that he is a gifted storyteller who can also belt out a song while either playing the piano or making sexy moves with his hips, Bubba is something of a tour-de-force.
But what makes Bubba so intriguing is really Walker’s knowledge of and attachment to his subject. In fact, Walker, a Huntsville, Alabama native, wrote the show as an independent study while earning an MFA at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts.
The play opens with the funeral of Walker’s father. Music is played, a poem (by Billy Collins, one of this reviewer’s favorite poets) is read, and Walker gets a glimpse into his father’s quirky past.
Through interviews with friends and family, Walker learns of his father’s lifelong battle with the effects of polio, his financial problems, his trouble with the law. Like most people, Walker’s father was far from perfect. But by the end of the show, Walker learns to understand and love the man.
So do we.
Bubba plays through Aug. 24 at The Celebration of Whimsy (C.O.W.), 21 Clinton Street, www.FringeNYC.org.