Last night I went to the first, amazing performance of an oddly titled one-man play about Occupy Boston. (You can guess who had the connection to get the ticket.) For 90 minutes, as maybe 30 different characters, Danny Bryck delivered lightly edited monologues built entirely from interviews with members of the protest camp that spent two months in front of the Federal Reserve building in downtown Boston.
The interviews were wonderfully edited to form a play presenting the natural narrative arc of the camp’s evolution, inspiration, and destruction, but the drama seemed to come straight from life. The interviewees who contributed their stories each presented a compelling viewpoint, either out of incredible personal history or sheer flair for the dramatic.
If the text as performed had simply been published verbatim (and perhaps it will be), it would have made a worthwhile book, but the most remarkable aspect of the performance was the performance. Bryck impersonated each speaker without caricature or mockery, adopting an enormous variety of tones, accents, postures, cadences, and I’m sure more other aspects of persona than I could possibly identify. It was no surprise to learn, after the show, that he’s previously served as a professional dialect coach in many other productions.
I can speak to the veracity of Bryck’s mimicry because several of his characters were there, in the audience. It was an unusual privilege to hear, in the discussion following the performance, interviewees react to their own portrayals … and to hear their immediately recognizable voices.
This performance was sort of a “beta test” for the show, which will receive more editing and focus before its real public run begins in the fall. I can recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the Occupy movement … just so long as they don’t expect to find a take-home message any shorter than the play itself.