bang. Comedy Theatre
Seven intrepid storytellers sit on stools placed across the proscenium of the modest bang. stage waiting as host and director Ezra Weisz to choose an audience member to randomly select the topic for the ensuing evening of unprepared, unprompted monologues.
After said topic is chosen from a pile of sealed envelopes housed in a hollowed out book and the performers have raised a right hand to take an oath to only tell The Truth when they eventually relate their tales, each sits quietly on the dimmed stage for a few tense minutes muttering and vaguely suppressing mysterious facial expressions while deciding what their individual unrehearsed rant will involve. Cheesy game show music plays on to accompany their ruminations, humorously heightening the stakes until one brave member of the troupe rises to become the evening’s first victim, at which point the lights turn instantly full, much to the relief of the other participants in this riskily spontaneous entertainment.
Improvisational sketch comedy meets story theatre in Sigmund Freud’s outer office on this tiny stage—and the result is this uniquely fascinating and somehow quite courageous little show.
“Nakedness” was the theme chosen the night this reviewer attended, something met with much eye rolling and lip biting until Chris Loprete started in on the first monologue, all about finding himself at a frat party in college where everyone was suddenly downing their beers and smoking their funny cigarettes sans togas. Admitting he was never comfortable in his body, Loprete successfully set the tone, making way for the other six monologists to be equally gutsy about opening their hearts and memories to the modest sea of observers intently watching and listening in the dark.
Steven Loeb took it one step farther describing in detail his decision to check out an underground rave-like sex party with his equally adventurous significant other, followed by Frances Nichols’ colorful description of what it’s like visiting the much too brightly lit dancers’ dressing room at the raunchy strip club where she works during the day as a cocktail waitress.
Interestingly, with the exception of Sonia Sanz’ warm and guiltless reminiscences of her earlier days working as a nude model for artists and photographers, her comfort inspired in part by a mother with “one foot in the 50s, one in go-go boots” and a painting in her childhood home of a naked woman with “one boob that followed you around the room,” the general theme of the evening became about discomfort with not being lucky enough to be born mesomorphic.
Even as Antonio Sacre fondly recalled his Cuban family’s lackadaisical attitude toward being naked at home, the frequent sight of his Papi’s significantly super-sized dick became a lifelong source of comparison with the part of him sorrowfully not passed down from father to son.
Jenny Noa’s bittersweet admission about feeling “body dys-phobic” throughout her life and Shawn Schepps’ memories of a life spent as a “plus-size girl in a zero-sized world” living with arms like a “Russian peasant” proved to be the evening’s bravest and most poignant reminders of what evolved into becoming the overall point of the exercise here: we’re all of us emotional messes, if not totally friggin’ nuts.
If we’re honest with ourselves and valiant enough to spill our hearts out to total strangers, there’s obviously a great sense of liberation involved in telling The Truth, something that’s probably a lot more cathartic to the folks on the bright side of the footlights than it is for those voyeurs who paid $10 to observe them.
In the final analysis, The Truth reveals one important condition of life as homo sapiens trying to stay on our feet on our constantly turning planet filled with both inner and outer obstacles to overcome during the course of a lifetime: no matter how it may appear to the outside world, only about one in seven of us is content with how we look and, subsequently, who we are.
The Truth plays on the third Thursday of every month at the bang. Comedy Theatre, 457 N. Fairfax Av., Hollywood; for tickets, call 323.653.6886.