Writer: Lauren Maul
Reviewer: Jamie Rosler
Humor and music are powerful weapons in the face of inhumane and abusive behavior, and comedian Lauren Maul wields them adroitly. Primarily on the piano, with a switch to guitar for one song, Maul and her talented backup ensemble (Alyson Greenfield, Jen Kwok, Chase O’Donnell, Tahlia Robinson, Alexius Smith, and Lady Kate Weber) perform eight songs with subjects and lyrics taken directly from the public apologies of well-known men accused of sexual harassment and assault (the ninth song, an instrumental tune, is presented as a video listing of men that have been accused but have not made public statements or apologies).
Choosing a different style for each number, often explicitly inspired by the tone of the apology statement, each speaker’s most absurd clauses and inclusions become uproarious fodder for Maul’s new ditties. The Louis C.K. Apology is a brazen opening number that focuses on the phrase “I never showed a woman my dick without asking first,” which segues nicely into Kevin Spacey’s “deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” Next on the musical chopping block are Matt Lauer, Russell Simmons (affectionately deemed “the rapist”), and Dustin Hoffman. For Harvey Weinstein’s rambling and disconnected apology, Maul presents a 1970s Harry Nilsson-inspired vibe, with a grand, repetitive gesture surrounding the key phrase, “That was the culture then.” As if that wouldn’t be absurd enough, peak ludicrousness comes in the form of Mario Batali’s apology, with an epilogue that offers up his recipe for pizza dough cinnamon rolls. Tasty, perhaps, but definitely tasteless. Finally, Charlie Rose’s apology is presented as a softer, gospel-inspired rendition entitled I Do Not Believe.
Maul engages the audience with easy participation, leading claps and snaps to the rhythm of the later songs. She is an inviting entertainer with a warm and engaging presence, who knows how to layer and then deftly remove various costume pieces throughout the show. The ensemble however lacked any unity of costume, with one in leggings, one in an evening dress, and the rest running the gamut in between. That, and the few technical hiccups during this one-night performance (all related to the microphones and speakers, unfortunately), are the main rough spots, and all easily cleaned up for the next performance (which has been neither planned nor announced as far as we know).
In the unfortunate case that there will not be another opportunity to catch Apologies From Men live on stage, you can still watch the videos and purchase the album through Ms. Maul’s website, or through most preferred downloading and streaming services. 100% of that sales revenue goes to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual-violence organization.
Reviewed on 9 March 2018 | Image: Giancarlo Osaben