Sunday, July 3, 2011
Matt Smith's "All My Children": ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG
Seattle's Matt Smith is a polished performer with many earlier monologues to his credit. Yarns spin effortlessly off his tongue, somewhat in the Garrison Keillor mode, but without any mention of Lutherans. In Smith's new solo show "All My Children," we hear the improbable tale of a man, now in middle age, who looks back on the six most prominent and failed romances of his youth, and after a bit of Googling discovers:
1) His exes all married their next boy friend, and
2) Within three months of breaking up with Matt Smith, each ex was pregnant, and
3) Each ex had one child, and, most importantly,
4) The kids and most of the exes are accessible on Facebook.
Smith's unflappable and affable delivery makes you almost believe that there is a human being on this or any other planet who would actually do what he then did, armed with the above information: he called up every one of the children of his exes and tried to convince them he was their real father. If anyone could make you believe this is a true story, Smith could. But, in the end, as uniquely enjoyable and at all times humorous a tale as he spins, its sheer unlikelihood makes it really hard to believe a word the man says.
Now then, nobody has to believe that Dan Hoyle's stories are word-for-word true, but you can imagine he actually did travel around the country talking to citizens. You can believe that Jeff Greenwald shaggy cow tale about the clerk at the Calcutta Airport. Ann Randolph's Frannie is just plain nuts. Of course she would do what she does.
But calling your exes' children and telling them...no, no, nah. Nobody could POSSIBLY be this stupid -- especially somebody as cool and collected and, seemingly, held together without any visible welds, as Matt Smith appears to be.
So you don't buy it, but you still love listening to it. The characters he talks about (he does not try to imitate their voices) are fascinating, especially once his "daughter" Rita bursts into the picture. You love Mitsuo and Carter. You recognize yourself in Boyd. The story ratchets up when the characters actually begin to interact. And the $100 Koobie Doobie is absolutely priceless and worth the price of admission all by itself.
After the show, this reviewer's friend said to him: "Why would a man actually DO something like that?" The answer, of course, is "WELL, HE WOULDN'T!" But so what? The idea is incongruous but you still can't get enough of it.
RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards Matt Smith's "All My Children" Three Stars with a BANGLE of PRAISE. We have the strong sense that if Smith wishes to take this story deeper it could become a classic. Who were the moms? What was going on during his flings with them? Do we recognize the kids in their moms? And how could the kids interact more, and for what reasons of their own? Above all: what possessed this man to do it in the first place? "All My Children" is a brilliant idea and perhaps it will become even more so as time goes on.
The BANGLE of PRAISE is for both incidents involving Koobie Doobies. You have to close your mouth before you start to laugh and then you can't stop.
"All My Children"
The Marsh, Berkeley
2120 Allston Way, Berkeley
Through July 23