by Gianfranco Lentini · August 15, 2014
One man’s journey to understand the life and death of his father culminates in this year’s FringeNYC solo performance, BUBBA. Returning to his roots in Huntsville, Alabama, Michael Thomas Walker, both the playwright and the performer, brings his audience along for the discovery of who his father, Joseph Dean Walker Jr., really was.
A well-crafted patchwork of comedic and heartfelt moments, BUBBA introduces us to the people who knew Walker's father the best. From family members to best friends, a series of personal stories begin to shed light on the man, myth, and legend that was Joseph Dean Walker Jr. And as the performance goes deeper and deeper into the heart of its conflict, the unearthing of Walker’s father becomes a tangible discovery for not only him but for the audience as well.
Throughout his solo performance, Walker displays a vocal talent that is nothing short of beautiful and an ability to turn the piano into a jukebox of soulful noise. Combining this with a passion to be on stage that is almost cathartic and a movement piece that might just knock the wind out of you, Walker is on his way to becoming an indisputable, quadruple threat.
Giving his audience what an entire cast would strive to do, Walker delivers his story with the enthusiasm and conviction of a man on a mission. And it’s clear to the audience that where he’s come from to be where he is today has shaped the character of his own being. Performing in the memory of a father who loved his family, we’re given glimpses into his past through speech, song, and photograph that depicts for us the need of strong family ties. Likewise, baring a strong resemblance to his father that is immediately recognizable, it’s as if we’re listening to Walker Jr. share with us his own life story.
In Walker’s performance, he takes us through the subjectivity of truth. If what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, we then have to ask ourselves how much can one person take before that strength gives out? How much truth can one person bear before it becomes too much to handle?
In BUBBA, Michael Thomas Walker isn’t afraid to tackle these questions and face how they apply to his own life. Wearing his heart and strength on his sleeves, Walker confronts the truths of life we experience every day. If there’s anything to be taken away from this performance, it’s to never save face at the expense of yourself and the ones around you.