Tue Jul 22 2008
Photograph: Aaron Epstein
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
Every child ought to have an Auntie Mame. When Don Reed was coming of age in 1970s Oakland, that free-spirited icon of liberated adulthood—a little naughty and a lot of fun—was his father. Okay, the patriarch happened to be a pimp with a wardrobe Superfly would have envied, whose idea of teaching Reed about the birds and the bees involved paying someone to deflower him, but he let the kid be himself—something Reed's Jehovah's Witness stepfather was not willing to do.
And just as his father never judged him, Reed, a gifted physical comedian who dexterously twitches his eyes, contorts his face and twirls his limbs as he glides around the stage in East 14th, returns the favor. He takes a decidedly amoral view of his father's life ("I just thought he was really into hats") and focuses largely on his own teenage misadventures and sexploits. Reed melds into an abundance of characters, milking laughs from a jumpy childhood pal, a flamboyantly gay brother and a knife-wielding hooker girlfriend, but despite his outrageous upbringing, the show has a cookie-cutter quality to it, proving that it's not what you tell but how you tell it.
Reed's father pops up only sporadically, and the other characters are just mildly amusing sketches. Although the anecdotal material seems better suited for stand-up than a solo play, Reed is being what he is. And for that, Dad would no doubt be proud.—Diane Snyder