fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Citizen Josh

I went to see Josh Kornbluth's show, Citizen Josh, at Arena Stage tonight. I hope there continues to be theatre at that location after the renovations in Southwest are done, since it's remarkably convenient for me. (It is literally across the street from my office.) It's also a lovely intimate setting - perfect for this sort of material.

I had not seen any of his shows live before, though I'd seen the movie version of Haiku Tunnel. (Robert has, however, seen all but this most recent show.) Live always works better than film for monologues. I suspect that what makes something a monologue is that it is more scripted than storytelling, but maybe it's just marketing. I do know that performance art is defined as "semi-experimental theatre attended only by friends of the performer." Which all too often means me and 5 other people in a dingy room in a scary neighborhood. But I digress.

Anyway, this piece is sort of about politics and democracy and learning to get involved and be active in the community. It's built around the story of Josh not graduating from Princeton (which he describes as "a finishing school for despots" - a line I have to remember to pass along to a friend who is a Princeton alum) because he never got around to doing his senior thesis. There's material about his son, his advisor, a playground at Ohlone Park, global warming (included an encounter with Al Gore), attempts at activism (some of the funniest parts of the show involve inept attempts at protests while he was at Princeton), and a whole lot of other stuff. There's also a very moving story about his youngest brother, who was born three months premature. Overall, I appreciated the mix of funny material and more serious subject matter and I thought the various threads were pulled together nicely in the end.

The style is fairly informal and conversational, which means Josh gets away with some mannerisms that might be distracting if he were going for a more polished effect. I also have to admit that I react positively to New York Jewish accents. Listening to Josh is like listening to, say, my uncle Herb. (By the way, I find it unbearably cute when Robert reverts to Bronx intonations. I, of course, speak with no accent at all.) It also probably helps that I spent 5 years in Berkeley and that I'm the same age as Josh.

Normally they hand out a survey before the performance and discuss results after. Tonight, however, they streamed the debate instead, which I did not stay for. In fact, one of my reasons for going tonight was to have an excuse not to watch the debate, since it would only irritate me. (And, yes, I understand the contradiction between that and my watching every minute of last night's Red Sox train wreck. Another reason for going tonight was a lack of a Red Sox game to raise my blood pressure.)

The show runs through Oct 26th and I'd recommend it to local theatre goers.
Tags: politics, storytelling, theatre

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