Manigma

By Michael Aronov. Dir. David Travis. With Aronov. 78th Street Theatre Lab (see Off-Off Broadway).

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5

A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN Aronov shares a private moment.Photo: David Travis

Multiple personalities are hardly disordered in Manigma, Michael Aronov's dynamic and expertly performed solo show. In director David Travis's trim staging, Aronov's six characters occupy discrete areas of the stage, abetted by only minor set pieces, costumes and props. A cocky and slightly cockeyed cabaret performer, a red feather boa around his neck, tells of his determination to become a star; a Russian immigrant does push-ups as he explains his attachment to traditional values; a poetry slammer uses rhyme and reason to fulminate against racial stereotypes and those who embody them. Aronov inhabits his creations—which also include an insecure self-helper, a mentally damaged introvert and a free-living, free-loving hedonist—with confidence, humor and chameleonic clarity.

The men depicted in Manigma, Aronov implies, represent extrapolated versions of aspects of his own personality: The author has found his six characters, and they are himself. This insight, offered very late in the game, does not quite give the show the retroactive coherence to which it aspires. But while Aronov's personae remain distinct from one another, they share their creator's connection with the audience. An oasis of charisma in 2004's otherwise parched Miss Julie, the gregarious performer is ceaselessly engaging as he flirts, chats and argues with the crowd; he is skilled at conveying not only the quirks and flamboyancies of his characters but also the basic decency that girds their aspirations. Manigma is essentially an actor's showcase (with a regrettable title), but Aronov makes it worthwhile. He's good people.—Adam Feldman