Ha! It finally happened tonite, my first post-Fringe bit of theatre! Sure, I had a bit of a false start on Wednesday, when the GCTC box office Heismanned me when I tried to get into the preview show (sold out, just like last night’s show…and tonight’s…), but this time I slipped though. And I’m so stoked about it I’m not even gonna start off all tengential and tell you about last night at Bluesfest (later), or where I drank before the show tonite(okay, the Carleton Tavern…but such a small tangent!). Instead, let’s get right to it…Alan Shain’s new show, TIME TO PUT MY SOCKS ON.
Saw a few familiar faces as I filed into the Oiving Greenboig Studio tonite…Wayne C., Sterling Lynch, Alison Cousins, theatre ninja superstars all, and here for the same prize as me, namely, a a good time at the theatre in the capable hands of one A.Shain. I’ve only seen Shain in one show previously, when he performed his autobiographical one-manner UNDER THE RADAR at the 2009 Ottawa Fringe Festival. He won me over pretty soundly that time…I seem to recall uttering the phrase ‘fucking FUNNY!’ to people when describing his show. And I’ve heard nothing but goodness about his older debut show, STILL WAITING FOR THAT SPECIAL BUS. So the chance to see a brand new theatrical piece by this guy was a pretty cool occasion for me.
The studio was decked out with a decent bachelor-pad of a set, and just before the lights went down, the man himself made his entrance, took the stage and…well, went to bed. The lights went down, and I was enjoying myself already. The play proper began with a video montage of the eary life of Marc, Shain’s character in the play, from teeny toddler to eager youngster, to…
…well, lets just say there’s nudity, bondage and party games involved in what comes next, and we’re off to the races! The story starts with Marc’s 1st anniversary wth his girlfriend Linda, and where things go from here. Marc is just an ordinary guy…nice apartment, good job, pretty girlfriend, but he’s having some relationship issues. Among other troubles…
At this point, I realize I should probably mention, for anyone reading this who’s not familiar with the mighty Alan Shain and his work, that Shain is disabled. Specifically, cerebral palsy, and the play deals with that issue along with many others…such as the not inconsiderable fact that most people looking at Marc only SEE the ‘disabled’ part of him, and ignore the independent, sex-hungry, fun-loving, punk rocking and just generally badass regular guy that he happens to be. Including, maybe, his girlfriend. The central pivot of the story revolves around an ongoing argument about socks…Marc likes plain old white tubers, Linda likes multicoloured elfin leggings, the odder the better.
It sounds silly, but that’s partially the point, I think…aren’t all the arguments most couples have, ultimately, kind of silly? Only this one is stealthy, because it masks a deeper, and more important point, namely Marc’s fierce desire to be his own man. A desire he’s not sure the ‘normal’ Linda can ever really get. Marc’s dialogues on the relationship, and his life in general, are punctuated here and there by returns to the screen for more montages that flesh out his life with Linda, as well as give Alan a bit of a break onstage. He really moves around in this one, including a few rocking dance numbers (in which I realized, without shame, that Alan Shain dances much, much better than me) to Sid Vicious’ MY WAY.
And amidst it all Marc is occasionally haunted by nagging voices from his life past and present…Linda’s constant calls, Physiotherapy teachers from his youth demanding he try to fit in, his overhelping Mother and those damn socks again…
As someone who, like Marc, only recently celebrated his 1st 1st anniversary, I can understand the guy’s trepidations. And that’s a great deal of the point of this great show, that Marc (and Alan himself, maybe) just want the same crap, and are plagued by the same fears and indecisions, as the rest of us. His greatest handicap seems to be that other people almost consistenly fail to recognize that, and again only see ‘disabled’. No, he doesn’t need your help crossing the street, or taking his coat off (unless you’re a comely young lady, and then by all means..!)
Shain and co-writer/Director Michelle Decottignies have made an excellent piece of theatre that hits on several important levels, often at the same time. It’s much more than just a message piece, or a ‘disabled’ show, and if the last shows on Saturday aren’t sold out yet, get out and catch this while you can. Or pester Smashing Sterotypes and Stage Left (Shain’s and Decottignies’ prod. companies) to remount the show somewhere, and soon. It’s worth it.
And oh yeah, in case I forgot to say..? It’s fucking FUNNY, too. Peace,