Its title, My Name Is Gideon: I’m Probably Going To Die, Eventually, is as rambling as the show itself is. At a straight through one hour and 45 minutes it could benefit from editing that would bring more focus to it’s entertaining features. There’s no great sense of profundity when it’s over but there has been a deep, communal bond between the audience and the performer.
“My shows are perpetual workshops,” states Gideon Irving, the scruffy, young, very talented “New York City Jew,” who bills himself in his spidery handwritten program as, “show maker, song singer, 180 lbs.” His goofy persona is immensely likable. The experience is like an Arlo Guthrie concert combined with Andy Kaufman stage business.
Mr. Irving has an amazing singing voice that soars from octave to octave. His witty songs include a funny one about texting. He tells an epic story about his parents meeting. His musicianship is tremendous as he plays banjo, bouzouki, shruti box, mbira, jew’s harps, whirly tube, scacciapensieri, and the ocean harp during the show. He does a wild dance to America’s “A Horse With No Name.”
After announcing that it’s “cookie time,” Irving takes out trays of warm chocolate chip cookies that are passed around and eaten by the audience. There’s also an offer of milk, chocolate as well. Audience engagement and participation is plentiful.
His career as a performance artist has had him performing in hundreds of people’s living rooms around the world and at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This is his American stage debut.
The enveloping scenic design by Silovsky Studios perfectly complements the performance. The stage is set up as an Old Curiosity Shop style cluttered apartment. A bicycle hanging from the ceiling, refrigerators, shelves of old National Geographic magazines, ovens, and vintage furniture pack the space. The walls of the theater are adorned with numerous maps of places Irving has performed. Brightly colored large parasols also adorn areas of the theater.
There are many strings of Christmas lights that are turned on and off and that are a component of Stephen Terry’s atmospheric lighting design. Daniel J. Gerhard’s accomplished sound design adds power to the presentation. Costume designer Alice Tavener has Irving’s T-shirt and tattered jeans finished off with a cool, floral print black blazer.
Artistic consultants Ewen Wright and Raky Sastri and choreographer Lily Gold have contributed to the production.
My Name Is Gideon: I’m Probably Going To Die, Eventually is a terrific showcase for Irving’s considerable and idiosyncratic gifts. Its unruliness reflects his appealing freewheeling sensibility.
My Name Is Gideon: I’m Probably Going To Die, Eventually (through December 11, 2016)
For One Theater
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place, in Manhattan
For tickets, 866-811- 4111 or visit http://www.mynameisgideon.com
Running time: one hour and forty minutes with no intermission