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A CurtainUp Review
The Tricky Part

The Tricky Part Makes a Stop in the Berkshires
By Elyse Sommer

Since Macey Levin reviewed The Tricky Part during it's Off-Broadway run his story has also been published as a memoir. Consequently, appearance at Shakespeare & Company's Springlawn theater is a combination theatrical presentation of show and book signing. Moran is as personable as ever and I agree fully with Macey's assessment of what he does. His particular form of personal confessional told with humor and warmth and his monologue is astutely scripted to make audiences identify and respond. In other words, you don't have to be gay or Catholic to appreciate and be touched by his story. With the Springlawn reconfigured to include an additional seating section between the thrust at either side of the parlor stage, the Moran's presentation gains intimacy while expanding the theater's capacity -- a good idea, if the packed house at the performance I attended can be taken as an indication.

As an erstwhile agent for many writers of what's known as midlist/enabling books, my hat's off to this smart combined marketing of The Tricky Part, the show and The Tricky Part, the memoir. The authors I represented who went on the lecture circuit always did well and I'm sure Moran's show/book tour will take him to many other small theaters and sell lots of books. I suppose it can't be helped that this savvy marketing makes the performance just a bit too slick not to remove at least a bit of the narrative's emotional freshness. Still, this is an interesting addition to the seemingly endless list of solo shows which have given actors like Mr. Moran a chance to create a viable and reasonable steady gig for themselves.

The Tricky Part also brings yet another viewpoint to more full-featured plays about pedophelia in the Catholic church (notably, the Pulitzer-prize winning Doubt, Sin, a Cardinal Deposed and The Lepers of Baile Baeste).

The credits for this is a limited engagement at Shakespeare & Company (From August 16th to September 4th) are the same as those listed in the Off-Broadway review. The performances alternate with the still running Ice Glen and Wharton One-Acts, so check the box office and web site for details about dates, time and tickets: 413/637-3353

Postscript: A reader asked if I could clarify the meaning of the title-- so here, for everyone else who didn't catch Moran's reference: The " tricky part" as he sees it is trying to find the face of God in the unlikeliest of visages.

Cranwell Resort

The Porches Inn

-- Review of The Tricky Part during it's off-Broadway run by Macey Levin
Is it possible that what harms us might come to restore us?
--- Martin
Martin  Moran
Martin Moran (Photo: Joan Marcus)
Martin Moran is an affable actor. He holds the stage with his pleasant manner, flexible voice, and a sense of theatre. His charm belies the ugly and painful story he tells in his one-man show The Tricky Part currently at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre.

Moran begins the tale by referring to a photo which shows him as a twelve year old standing in a kayak; he regales us with humorous anecdotes and one-liners about his experiences at Christ the King parochial school in Denver, Colorado. As treasurer of student council, he enjoyed calling the bank and saying, "Hello, this is Christ the King calling. . ." Moran speaks warmly about the school and his early childhood.

As an older man who has earned success as an actor and who now lives a life that suits him, he contacts Bob, a counselor at a camp church, who changed his life. When Moran was 12 years old, as in the photo, he and his friend George accompanied the seminarian to a small ranch to help Bob do some work for a weekend. There Bob introduced Martin to sex. The combination of curiosity and fear impelled the boy to allow it to occur.

The show explores the complexity of Moran's reactions and feelings as he reconstructs memories of the incident and speaks with Bob. He shares his confusion and pain with the audience while he relates the story without rancor or recriminations. Moran recalls his life since that moment while he reflects on a shattered adolescence and the man it has produced. Bidding farewell to Bob, Moran hopes the meeting will put the gruesome past to rest.

The work is well structured and involving, but it is not a play. It is a very affecting story nicely told and effectively conveying its messages. It is another in a long line of one-person shows that reveal the author's life and provides a platform from which to proselytize, pronounce a public mea culpa, expiate sins real or imagined and otherwise indulge personal emotions.

Whether this is Moran's intention is secondary to his performance and its impact. He is an accomplished actor who deftly touches his audience's mind and heart. His narrative and demeanor immediately involve us. The story is replete with digressions that complement and enhance the core of his experience.

The very simple set and props, a high stool, a table on which is perched the young boy's photograph and a journal (plus the ubiquitous bottle of water to slake a dry throat), focus the attention on the actor and his words. Seth Barrish's direction and Moran's delivery keep the potentially maudlin story from becoming lachrymose and sodden.

Moran's artful relation of his experiences is a cautionary and absorbing tale.

Written by Martin Moran
Directed by Seth Barrish
Cast: Martin Moran
Scenic Design: Paul Steinberg
Lighting Design: Heather Carson
Running Time: 90 minutes (no intermission)
McGinn/Cazale theatre, 2162 Broadway (at 76th St.); 212-239-6200
3/28/04-5/30/04; opening 4/12/04
Tues-Sat at 8 pm; Sat at 2 pm; Sun at 3 pm & 7 pm--$26 and $51
Reviewed by Macey Levin based on April 14th performance
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