This one-man show is quite possibly the gayest show in town. Ben Rimalower, a director making his writing/performing debut with this piece, tells his own story of a gay man dealing with his estranged father – who is also gay – interspersed with Patti LuPone diva-worship. Gay, gay, gay!
Rimalower has deftly combined his family history, a story that anybody can relate to, with jokes and references designed to tickle theatre fanatics and insiders. I have to admit that I have come to this particular party very late – Patti Issues has been running weekly for the better part of a year at the Duplex – so it comes as no surprise that Rimalower has the pacing of this story down pat. It’s generally a breathless pace, which works great for the comedy, but Rimalower also has a director’s sense of when a moment needs to sit or simmer (the show was actually directed by Aaron Mark, to whom I have to give credit for having the requisite boldness to direct a director).
It’s a complex story, involving lots of travel around the country, a large cast (though Rimalower only acts out a handful of the people he mentions), name changes and the difficult ebb and flow of a life in the theatre. It testifies to Rimalower’s skill as both writer and perform that very nearly every moment is crystal clear.
It’s also impressive that Ben never whitewashes the setbacks that happen in every theatrical career. As a director myself, I could definitely identify with those moments when you think one thing is going to lead to another – and it doesn’t.
LuPone herself played a role in one of Rimalower’s bigger disappointments, and he renders that moment very movingly, but just as movingly narrates how he took a deep breath and turned that lemon of a moment into lemonade, saving both face and his warm relationship with the diva. Highly entertaining, sometimes moving and definitely recommended.
For tickets, click here.
For more reviews and interviews by Jonathan Warman, see his blog Drama Queen.