A person telling a story. Whether around a fire, perched on the edge of a child’s bed or striding on a stage, it is an elemental human experience. Some would say that the act of storytelling itself is what makes us human. So it is movingly appropriate that Martin Moran, in his new one person play All the Rage, attempts to get to the heart of what, if anything, connects us by standing alone in the light and telling us “what happened next.” Nothing more. Nothing less.
Though it requires no previous familiarity with Moran’s work, the play is a continuation of sorts of Moran’s acclaimed memoir and play The Tricky Part, in which he revealed his sexual relationship at 12 years old with a 30 year old man and his later attempt to confront his abuser.
This deeply searching yet surprisingly funny new work finds Moran struggling to answer a question he hears again and again after performing the earlier play: “Why aren’t you angry?” The journey to access his rage or explain its absence takes him (and his rapt audience) to a Vegas confrontation with his step-mother, a Colorado hike with his seething yet poetic brother and across the world to the cradle of human life itself. At the play’s tender heart lies his burgeoning friendship with an African refuge, whose story of torture and escape binds them together—and leads the way to understanding.
As anyone who has heard the same joke from two people to very different results knows, it’s all in the telling. And with Moran (whose Broadway credits include Spamalot and Titanic), you have a storyteller of such ease, humor and open heartedness that, even when a particular episode feels less organic and more meandering, you go with him. You want to spend the evening with him. Heck, you want to go for a long walk with him after the show and just see where life takes the two of you as you chat and listen. That kind of warmth and spontaneity is not easily captured on stage and, in fact, requires the skill of a seasoned performer and the encouragement of a delicate director—here the unfussy, sure-handed Seth Barrish.
In the end, this soft-spoken, involving and worthwhile play arrives at flashes of insight, moments of loving clarity about our interconnectedness. The lessons learned may not be fresh, but they are freshly felt—freshly, deeply, humanely felt.
All the Rage by Martin Moran
The Peter Jay Sharp Theater 416 West 42 Street
“And if not every stop on its itinerary comes into equally clear focus, this chatty but soulful show leads you into thought- and emotion-stirring territory that you don’t often visit at the theater.” New York Times
“Endearingly humble, clever and funny, he takes us on his sometimes desperate mission to acquire ‘life clues’ and achieve Zen moments…” The Washington Post
“…Moran’s circuitous path to inner peace sounds a lot like the usual tale of the Westerner learning valuable lessons from long-suffering — but wise! — Africans.” New York Post
“The new play affirms Moran’s stature as an endearing and entertaining writer and storyteller.” New York Daily News