Review by Teresa Gasparini
“What if what harms us comes to restore us?”
Living in 2019, it seems unfortunate that there are topics of conversation which are considered taboo; subjects about which we are not allowed to speak openly. Martin Moran’s The Tricky Part at Ancram Opera House tears those walls down with such a crash, that what seems odd is that it is not normal to talk about various topics, this particular one being sexual abuse.
Theater has lasted for thousands of years because of one commonality: People are wired for stories. We want to hear them, we want to tell them, we want to connect to them. Moran’s deeply personal story of “sexual trespassing” in his youth kept the audience spellbound for the entire 80-minute one act performance. Originally written in 2002, this story remains timely told as we find ourselves in an era of the #MeToo Movement, and this piece certainly lends a hand to helping find a voice for the marginalized or even a sense of comfort to those who have not yet found the courage to speak up and out.
Moran opens the show by bringing us to his youth and how his childhood was shaped by the Catholic school he attended, the religious community he lived in, and the chance encounters that set the course of his life. It is discovered that he, like many, live in a paradox that leaves you in a state of questioning, re-imagining, and acceptance of our life’s path.
Moran is under the direction of Seth Barrish, whose expansive career lends a hand to this deceptively simple show. The idea of a one-man show may seem easy, but when everything rides on one actor’s ability to tell a story with content as heavy as this, only the skilled hand of a well-seasoned director will ensure its success. The impact of Barrish’s direction was evident as he possesses the strong director’s insight needed for a production such as this.
It is remarkable that Moran not only came to terms with the abuse imposed upon him and not only that he found the courage to record it, but even further, that he is valiant enough to share his story with countless audience members for almost two decades. Brave indeed, but perhaps even more so, noble. Moran’s ability to engage the audience with his unfiltered truth and (notwithstanding the difficulty of the topic) a bit of humor, was impeccable. He spoke with sincerity as he told this incredibly personal story. He shared such intimate details that there were moments you felt you were violating his privacy by reading the sequestered pages of his journal, and in that same moment, Moran literally picked up his diary and read his story straight from his entries; a story so powerful that at times it felt like all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room.
The Tricky Part is aptly named, because of the “tricky” and wonderful step it takes in making sure subjects like this are spoken of openly and freely. It shatters the idea that it’s not okay to be in repair while you reach for forgiveness and acceptance. Moran’s childhood was interrupted and derailed, but he was able to navigate this journey with dignity. Broken, perhaps, for a time, in search of his moment of grace.
The Tricky Part was a limited 3-show engagement at the Ancram Opera House, and as a first-time attendee, if this is the type of work they produce, it is well worth your time to support this quaint opera house. The remainder of their 2019 Summer Season consists of a one night only event Real People, Real Stories on July 27th and a three-week run of The Brothers Size showing August 8-25, 2019. Find them online at www.ancramoperahouse.org or call for more information: 518-329-0114. Originally a Grange Hall built in the 1920s, their intriguing choices for their season seems as fittingly “off the beaten path,” as is their charming theater. And, if The Tricky Part is any indication, audiences should certainly find time to make the trip.
Teresa Gasparini is a local director, actor and is a co-founder of Hudson Valley Ovation. She serves as the Artistic Director for Clove Creek Dinner Theater in Fishkill, NY and as Executive Director for The New Deal Creative Arts Center located in Hyde Park, NY.