I'm usually not a great fan of solo performances -- drama, for me, involves two or more people -- but I had read the positive reviews of Martin Moran's solo show, ALL THE RAGE, and was intrigued.
Martin Moran has had a long career as a working actor. More important, he has developed a career as memoirist and solo performer. ALL THE RAGE is his second major solo work. It is an arresting work about anger and compassion. Moran begins with a story of reconciliation with his father's second wife after years of rancor, a reconciliation caused by a brief touching of hands and a wellspring of compassion. He eventually came to feel the same compassion toward the man who sexually abused him as a child. What leads to the waning of anger and the beginning of fellow-feeling? Moran spends much of the eighty-minute performance discussing a young African man who is seeking asylum in the United States. Though he had been tortured and has been separated from his family, this man is capable of moments of great joy. Coming to know this man has been part of Moran's own spiritual healing. All this could be preachy, but Moran is such a winning storyteller that he makes those of us in the audience share his own weakness and his growth as a process. In the intimate Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, there is a sense that we are not merely auditors, but participants in a conversation. After all, we have all had our moments of rage that we have regretted. We have all wished we could be better people. Moran's piece is a celebration of those moments of compassion we feel in our best moments.
ALL THE RAGE has been deftly staged by Seth Barrish (I'm sure Moran also had a hand in the staging). Under Barrish's guidance, Moran manages to make use of the entire stage space in addition to props and projections without losing the sense that he is talking directly to us.
Seeing Moran's performance piece makes me want to read his previous works -- and look forward to his next work.
ALL THE RAGE, written and performed by Martin Moran. Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Playwrights Horizons. February 13, 2013.