I have this thing, when someone steps on my foot, I always say, “That’s OK, I have another one”.
This line is usually met with a brief moment of surprise, followed by an uncertain chuckle, then a burst of laughter.
The other option? A brief moment of indignation, followed by an uncertain grunt, then a burst of angry words.
Martin Moran, writer and performer of the one-man show All the Rage currently being revived at The Barrow Group theatre, treats us to an engaging 80-minutes of storytelling about his search for meaning, value, and anger, or more importantly, the lack of anger, in his life.
Both Moran and his script are disarming, captivating, touching, and thought-provoking. The audience cranes to hear his every truth-packed word, feeling his moments of joy and triumph as well as those of disappointment, resignation and, yes, even anger.
Moran’s had some good reasons to be angry, like being dismissed for years by his wicked stepmother, almost run over by an irate cab driver, being driven way off course by an illiterate tour guide, and, oh, there’s also being sexually abused by a camp counselor at the age of 15. Moran tells us that the play isn’t about this abuse, although we learn it is the subject of his first book and one-man play, The Tricky Part, about which his hometown paper, The Denver Post, wrote:
…when a story hits that close to home…you get angry, even though Moran is not…most troubling is his continued reluctance to despise or even blame his molester…makes one wonder if he ever will truly move on…
“Where is your anger?” seems to be the running question throughout this piece.
Moran begins the play with an informal welcome, asks us to turn off our phones (“Oh, I see so many phone screens right now, you’re actually doing it!”), then immediately dives right in to tell his story. He alights on different spots of the stage, occasionally dashing about like an enthusiastic kid, producing bits of evidence from his life, looking for things to show us and searching for the meaning, value and anger he seems to be missing in his life.
Mark Wendland’s scenic design–a chair, a table with a globe, a lamp, two rolling flip boards, a tripod–is spare, practical and perfect, an ideal actor’s playground.
Russel Champa’s lighting design expertly guides our eyes to the different parts of the stage, skillfully framing Moran and the objects he encounters as he darts around the space.
Director Seth Barrish provides perfect shaping to the piece, maximizing Moran’s talent and narrative to ultimate effect.
Anger gets things done in the world! But Seneca said rage is a spear with two points, one aimed toward the wielder…in Buddhist tradition anger is called an addiction, or visha, a poison…and I want to drink some of that…I need to drink some of that.
Anger happens–it has its purposes and outcomes–but where there can be anger, there can also be empathy and forgiveness, even without understanding. It’s a choice–one is destructive; the other, healing.
Read The Tricky Part and All the Rage, book or script, and when someone steps on your foot, or worse, choose your response well.
All the Rage (through October 5, 2019)
The Barrow Group
TBG Mainstage Theatre, 312 West 36 Street, in Manhattan
For tickets call 866-811-4111 or visit https://www.barrowgroup.org/all-the-rage
Running time: one hour and 20 minutes without an intermission