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Some men work out unresolved issues about their fathers in front of a therapist; others do it in front of a refrigerator, or sobbing in front of a gravestone. Michael Thomas Walker does it in front of an audience. His autobiographical solo play begins with news of his dad’s mysterious death, but opens into an admirable and inspiring quest to better fathom his father’s life. The discoveries aren’t always bragworthy: Joseph Dean Walker Jr., was self-centered and emotionally distant, and played fast and loose with the law. But the elder Walker was also a product (and the pride) of Huntsville, Alabama, where any male of any age will be called and is known as “Bubba," and, in his son’s deliciously rendered performance, a gallery of characters emerges to paint a complex portrait of a father he only partly knew. Making sparing use of props and a wickedly untuned piano, Walker unspools tales and anecdotes, impersonates Huntsville’s most colorful citizens and effortlessly bounds around the stage. Keeping him focused is Melissa Firlit’s tight direction, while Tom Minucci’s crisp video design delivers fine visual cues. Walker’s dad—let’s call him Bubba—may be gone now, but no, sir, he’s far from forgotten.—Leonard Jacobs
Click here for full TONY coverage of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival.