Spitting In The Face Of The Devil
nytheatre.com review by Kristin Skye Hoffmann
August 14, 2009
In Spitting In the Face of the Devil, writer/performer, Bob Brader has produced a one-man show that isn't "showy" at all. His performance is sort of the antithesis of spectacle in a theatre, and it happens to work quite well. In fact, it is more like a man telling his life story to a room full of uninterrupting friends than it is a man performing a monologue. Certainly, Brader changes into the characters about whom he speaks, but he does it in a way that makes it impossible to forget who is actually telling the story, and it is indeed an unforgettable story. I believe he only even got up from his chair one time for the duration of the performance.
"The Devil" to which the title refers is Brader's father. From what we learn over the course of the performance it is a very appropriate nickname. Abusive, mean-spirited, and a closeted homosexual child molester—these are just the tip of the iceberg that make up this "devil" and the unfortunate thing is that even though the tales are reminiscent of common soap opera themes and seem too horrible to be true, it becomes very evident by the end that what was inflicted upon Brader in his youth and into his adulthood are all too common for people these days.
Brader should be commended for his performance. He offsets the melodramatic themes by avoiding any play for sympathy, which is not something that many writers/performers of one man shows tend to do. He is ultimately just telling his story. With the help of director Suzanne Bachner he avoids any possible hint of whininess that could easily have been present. Bachner does an excellent job in not over-directing this piece. It is so simple and honest that even the uncomfortable material is easy to absorb.
Brader's story is one that many people with similar experiences would struggle to share, and he deserves kudos for having the guts to make it into art rather than letting it swallow him whole. This is a show that should really appeal to the everyman—to people with dreams who have had to know themselves before they could make them real, shirking off the oppression of anyone who has told them they would never be anything. It reminds us to value those who support us and to accept that there will always be someone telling us we can't do something. It is up to us what we choose to believe.