Confess Your Bubble
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
June 21, 2012
I don't know what it means to "confess your bubble," even after seeing Matthew Freeman's new theater piece of that title at the Democracy Festival. I guess it has something to do with revealing an inner truth about yourself; that's kind of what Senator Carl Corpuscle is doing in places in this show, alluding to questionable aspects of his own past and illuminating—sometimes cynically and often with dead-on accuracy—the dysfunctional American government that he is woefully and unapologetically part of.
I didn't fully get the context of Corpuscle's monologue. On stage is a live camera bearing a C-SPAN logo, whose feed is sometimes projected on the screen on the rear wall. The screen also informs us that this is part of "Kidz Klub," and the conceit seems to be that the Senator is lecturing a group of high school students, although he cautions us at the outset that we all must be at least 18 years old (which would seem to leave most high schoolers out). He also says that he is doing this speech as the result of a plea bargain, and I gathered that the reason for the age minimum had something to do with some aberrant sexual behavior on his part.
It's all a bit fuzzy, especially since Steve Burns, as Corpuscle, seldom acts like somebody who is giving a speech to young people. Instead, the hour-long performance resembles a very actorly stream-of-consciousness monologue, with any number of tangential topics popping up throughout Freeman's script and surprising moments of movement and gesture presumably worked out by Burns and director Kyle Ancowitz. These parts of the show took me out of the stated framing concept, but they didn't clarify the artists' intent.
And in fact, I must admit that I left Confess Your Bubble unsure just what Messrs. Freeman, Ancowitz, and Burns wanted me to get out of the piece. There are some smart and thoughtful ideas in here, to be sure—a short discourse on the nature of American wars from World War I through the invasion of Iraq is striking, for example. But Corpuscle, who by the way is a Democrat from Washington, is not at all a character to root for, even if he is sometimes self-aware; he is the kind of incumbent that clearly ought to be voted out of office... but I'd love to see a viable alternative presented (even on stage!) before I pull that lever on Election Day.