Saturday, September 12, 2009

Steve Susoyev Review (People Farm) of Raymond's show in SF, "Bohemian Cowboy"

Bohemian Son

Gerry, Raymond has created a masterpiece. Of course it all felt very personal for me--remembering the way in which you and your sisters took turns filling the role of "salvationist" in my own life--but beyond that, I was hit very hard by the importance of telling our stories, and telling the truth.

Raymond's respect for his family, his reliance on the support he has received -- including the acknowledgment that the ornery old cuss Clyde, his dad's "tormentor," never criticized his dad to him -- was very moving.

So much "stage memoir" is full of rage, and though we often understand that it is important for the writer-performer to get this vitriol out of his or her system, an audience can expire from the tedium if not from the toxic fumes. Very rarely does such work actually inspire an audience with its sincerity. Here, we have a performer who has much to be angry about, and we see, in raw, painful detail, how he has often turned his anger upon himself. But he has worked with it, and worked with himself, so we are able to enjoy and revel in the result, even as our eyes fill with tears.

Tonight I took my friend George Birimisa with me, a tough audience if there ever was one -- at 85, he often leaves plays during intermission and finds his way home because I always want to stay and get my money's worth. George is a playwright and director, and what sends him out the door (other than a play that is badly acted and badly directed) is work that pretends to be "emotional" but doesn't ring true. He went on and on while I drove him home about the emotional truth of this play, and Raymond's skill as a writer and actor.

I'm going again next week and bringing my boyfriend, Jim, plus several theater chums from my Corpus Christi troupe.

On Sunday I will hear Linda read at a bookstore near my house. How great to have the Kings and Shurtzes in town!


Steve Susoyev

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