by Joan Kane · October 22, 2013
The 4th annual UNITED SOLO THEATRE FESTIVAL is at Theater Row on 42nd Street October 3 – November 24 with 121 productions. Indie Theater Artist Joan Kane looks at Jersey Boy written and performed by Dihlon McManne . Dihlon McManne begins his solo performance describing his working class, Irish neighborhood of Elizabeth, New Jersey. The year is 1973 and drugs run freely including Quaaludes, pot, coke and his favorite, LSD. He tells us about his best friends, Donnie O’Leary and Anthony “Biggs” Faguci, the first kids in their crowd to get their own apartment after high school. In a story filled with sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, the parties are fast and furious. Donnie’s older brother returns from Viet Nam and supplies them with pure liquid LSD 25. A double dose is consumed and the trip begins and what a trip it is! As high as a kite, McManne decides to leave his friend’s apartment to explore the outside world. He drives a car where the bobble head figure on the dashboard talks to him, sees a universe in a flower growing between the cracks in the side walk, has an out of body experience, travels back in time to visit dead relatives and sees a pizza become three dimensional.
I am from this same generation. Many of us overused drugs and for a lot of us it was not pretty. Many people succumbed to drug addiction, lingering on for years as heroin addicts, including one of McManne’s friends. Others spent vast sums in rehab and/or many years in jail. Few emerged completely unscathed. McManne only briefly addresses the consequences of the drug culture. What he does in Jersey Boy is celebrate the inanity and wonderment of losing any meaningful connection to reality.
Director Brendan Connor has McManne on the move at almost all times. This is not your Spalding-Grey-Mike-Daisy-one-man-show where the one man sits behind a desk the whole evening. McManne stands, sits, lies, moves, and drives all over the stage in a constant eruption of energy. Through it all McManne shows us that he is an excellent actor, providing a heartfelt, richly nuanced performance.