Writer: Martin Moran
Director: Seth Barrish
Reviewer: Alithea Howes
“I wanted to tell you all about a dream I had, but first…” Is how Martin Moran’s All the Rage begins. There are a lot of “but first”s in this deceptively casual show. It feels like a meandering conversation with an old friend, all tangents and abrupt topic shifts, with surprising humor coming from tossed off details and sly implications. But a spontaneous conversation could not connect those details so thoughtfully or poetically.
This is a show about details. Moran illuminates his stories with flyers, pamphlets, postcards, even the fortune from a fortune cookie. The prop list resembles the contents of a jacket pocket that’s never been cleaned out. The set itself resembles a class room as he points out the location of his stories on various maps and globes.
Surrounded by maps, Moran asks us “Where is my anger?” As if he could find it, physically, in Chad or Nevada, possibly on the A train. His search begins as a result of his previous one man show, about being molested. His audiences are frustrated by his confrontation, or lack thereof, with his abuser. “Where is your anger?” They ask him, and this question becomes entangled with a more common “what am I doing with my life?” midlife crisis. He looks for answers in conversations with his family, with a sudanese refugee he’s helping to apply for asylum, in the cradle of civilization museum in South Africa.
He doesn’t find it because, in story after story, his anger is lost in the details. Details are where he finds compassion. The bloodshot eyes of a cab driver melt his righteous New Yorker road rage. His hand, lifted in anger, comes to rest gently on his stepmother’s hand when a shaft of light hits her face just so. His anger is lost in these small reminders of shared humanity.
Moran is frustrated with his knack for spontaneous forgiveness. It’s a feeling he transfers to us when his stories end abruptly, quickly switching to something seemingly unrelated. We are accustomed to closure. We are used to stories of vengeance or justice. Anger creates a satisfying story. It bubbles to a climax and gives us closure in the form of violence. Forgiveness, the willful dissipation of conflict, is anticlimactic.
Life is short on closure so Moran doesn’t give it to us. What he gives us instead is the joy forgiveness can bring, and the awe it can inspire. He wants our anger to be lost, like his, in the reminder that we are all connected.
Runs until 5 October 2019 | Photo Credit: Edward T. Morris