“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” – R.E.M . . .
By Bailey Van Schepen . . .
Greeted with house music reminiscent of feelings indicative of the world today, the audience is immediately aware of the kind of roller coaster they are about to ride. This self-aware and satirical one-man show touches on any and every sensitive subject there is and does so through a journey of awakening. If Robert Dubac, a well-seasoned professional in the industry, wasn’t getting on in years, I’d be inclined to call this a “coming of age” story.
Robert enters the space at the SoHo Playhouse with what I can only describe as a Socratic approach to his exposition and asks the audience all of the questions. He begins his show in a confused limbotic state and informs us that he will attempt to unveil who he is and how he got himself into this existential crisis as he recently had been attacked and is now in a deep coma. He needs his scruples (i.e. the audience) to aid him as he treks through his subconscious to discover his truth in order to wake up.
As we dive deeper and deeper into his soul, we meet his inner voices- Reason, Common Sense, Child, Moron, and Asshole. Each voice has their own unique personality and purpose in guiding Robert towards his truth. Each time, he asks us, as well as himself, the difficult questions in both life and art- where do we draw the line between provocative and offensive, how do we filter out all of the bullshit, and is it still okay to say the r-word on stage? The answers to these questions differ from person to person. Through each revelation, he settles into his truth and his overall anxiety subsides. He accepts the challenges that come with self-discovery and becomes more comfortable with his inner voices until eventually, he succeeds on his journey and comes to.
This show demonstrated a masterful execution of call-backs and play-on-words to make a circular plot that flowed like water. The Book of Moron was easy to follow and easy to understand, yet provocative and undeniably hilarious. Dubac chastised topics such as religion, mental disabilities, racism, and politics. He kissed the line of problematic, but never crossed it allowing the audience to take a better look into his psyche and into themselves. The show was an excellent showcase of his skills as a writer, an actor, and a stand-up comedian as he intermingled the acknowledgement of the audience, with his skills of characterization, and the repetition of similar plotlines.
For the most part, the show, directed by Gary Shandling, was entertaining and thought-provoking, but I would not recommend audiences who are sensitive in nature to attend. The Book of Moron blurs the lines of right and wrong, and if one should take anything away from this production, it is this: the bullshit they want to hear is not always the bullshit they want to say.
The Book of Moron, SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam St, New York City, thru October 3
Photos are Courtesy of Moment-to-Moment Productions