Actor/writer Tim Driscoll really wants to grab your attention.
Actually, he grabs a lot more than attention in a new collection of one-man monologues billed together as Creative Fluid. After all, the piece spurts through the realm of masturbation, sex booths, and other seedy after-hours encounters in a non-stop hour of suggested self-stimulation. Through a progression of sketches, he brings to life a sundry bunch of autobiographical characters, including close family members, friends, and even the pitiable porno proprietor who has to mop up after guests, which taken together enlighten his process of sexual self-discovery. Each vignette is punctuated by a movement monologue, similar to a Robert Wilson knee play, that humorously parodies the delights and frustrations of possible encounters in the "buddy booth."
But in performance, Driscoll's decision to intersperse such outlandish moments of rampant sexuality among intimate scenes from his own childhood distracted from the piece as a whole. The juxtaposition seemed just plain bizarre at times (when Driscoll mimed jacking off right after portraying his heartbroken mother) and raised major questions about Driscoll's agenda as author. Any message or meaning behind this work could not be discerned through the overt packaging of eye-catching, marketable beefcake. Such blatant sexual exploitation became cliché, and the production served as a reminder that an author's cathartic purging of sexual angst is usually more appropriate to the psychiatrist's office than the stage.
By the end of the evening, even the comedy had worn thin, for almost every gag was a heavy-handed one-liner about "the load" or "coming." At times the auditorium felt like a junior-high locker room.
Nevertheless, Driscoll brought the monologues to life with a perfect balance of controlled grace and driving energy. He crafted each character with conscious attention, physical subtleties, and vocal inflection, and even the cross-gender roles had an air of depth and integrity instead of a cartoonish facade. The guidance of director Miles Everett was always keen and made wise use of Driscoll's experience as a dancer; the pace was sharp and to the point.
David Ferry's set design was simple but incredibly effective, creating a miniature playground for Driscoll's on-stage antics, and the uncredited lighting design employed sharp contrasts of color and coverage to keep up with the rapidly changing tone of the script. The complete presentation by HERE, a Multi-Arts Center near Soho, could not have been more professional, for they maximized the effect of limited resources.
Driscoll's piece was extremely well-performed but reached its climax prematurely. The monologues were excellent character studies but never moved beyond the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am nature of the buddy-booth quickie.
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Copyright 1998 Andrew Eggert