Sunday, March 3, 2013

Kurt Bodden's "Steve Seabrook: Better than You" ☼ ☼ ☼

Kurt Bodden is the real-live actor and writer who becomes the self-absorbed Steve Seabrook, self-help guru, for 70 minutes a night. "Better Than You" is the name of Seabrook's would-be franchise, which currently includes workshops, bottled water and golf tips. Bodden must be more familiar than he would want us to know with the actualization industry.

We see two Seabrooks, one with the lights on speaking to his audience: "You can have everything you've ever wanted with very little effort!" and one backstage during breaks, where we see his inner confusions. Christopher Meyer's light changes help us identify which mode Seabrook is in, though the real tipoff is Steve Seabrook's heaven-inspired smile.

We know that smile. It makes us cringe. But it also feels real.

This may be the gorilla in "Better Than You"'s room -- Kurt Bodden is really good, but Steve Seabrook's seminar is not particularly convincing. We never see why anyone would pay $1147 for a weekend with this vacant man -- he doesn't give anyone a thing. Perhaps this is the point -- that these classes are worthless -- but it feels as if Bodden is searching for something deeper. Perhaps this could be driven home better with some kind of interaction with a fictional workshop participant? We would pay to see Kurt Bodden, because he is a terrific physical comedian, but we'd demand our money back in an instant from Steve Seabrook.

There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Our favorites are the paper boy and the dog story, and Seabrook's admonition to his class: "I have good news and bad news for you. People who are more successful than you are no better than you. That's the good news. The bad news is that people who are no better than you are more successful than you are."

He'll make you squirm, and that's good. Steve Seabrook right now is, down deep, a good guy. He probably could be a little less decent to start out, so we could watch him, along with his class, discover the "Little U in You."

RATINGS: ☼  ☼  ☼
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Steve Seabrook: Better than You" Three Stars. Kurt Bodden gives you a fun evening and you don't have to spend $1147 to get it.

Kurt Bodden's "Steve Seabrook: Better than You"

The Marsh
1062 Valencia Street, San Francisco
Friday and Saturday through March 30


ORCA7 said...

If I'm smarter than usual, I won't add this to my list of productions I've regretted procrastinating seeing past their last possible run. I've heard nothing but good things about this one since it started.

I've seen this fictional seminar shtick in a couple of other incarnations, so my bias is that it can be a successful conceit (Varon's "Genome In A Bottle", for example) and the whole genre is underutilized for anything from sheer silliness to serious satire. (Yes, I really just did that.) Promise I'll get back here if I get my act together. Thanks for the read, tho'.

DAK said...

For me, Mr. Bodden is so good he could have gone deeper. The self-help gurus are really easy to lampoon, because they are stationary targets. He could take this show to another level if he chooses to, and he may.