And You Come From Where ...?

Local Arts Reviews

And You Come From Where ...?:

Where Did the Love Go?

The Vortex,

through July 15

Running Time: 1 hr, 45 min

I haven't told anyone yet. I didn't want to jinx it, but I fell in love this weekend. With Cultureworks' And You Come From Where ...?, written and performed by Brian Shapiro.

I remember it as if it were yesterday. First, there was the opening act (a rotating duty during the show's run): a group of dancers, including Casey Crumpacker, performing Body Cartography in Blue. Two girls dressed in shades of blue serve bowls of blueberries. The music for the piece -- if only it had been "Your Blue Room" -- was selected the day of the show, and the movements were improvised. Running about 10 minutes, this piece had no relation to Shapiro's work -- but then Shapiro's work had very little relation to Shapiro's work (we'll get to that). Sure, Public Enemy opened for U2 on their Zoo TV tour, but when Bono howled "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," it sounded a lot like Chuck D discharging "Fight the Power."

Then (following an intermissionette) Shapiro took the stage and boy, did he pop. He began with a story about his brother, his father, and himself, and it had the bite of a Robert Olen Butler short story: solid execution, vivid images, precision. Funny, too. Shapiro compared his brother's not wanting to go to temple to walking in on someone having sex: "You don't want to be there, but it's intriguing somehow."

I was hooked. I wanted to hear more. It was love. Love is a strong word, I know, but I was young. Alas, Shapiro's first character never returned. Instead, he was replaced by four other guys: Mofsha, Tex, a storyteller, and a guy dressed in mechanic overalls. Though interesting, they all lacked purpose, having no real connection to the play at hand. My love waned.

Every time a new character came onstage, I thought, "This is it ... this is the antenna adjustment that'll make the picture clear again." Then I'd feel that tinge of acquaintance, like I should know him. It was like déjà vu, only with people -- déjà who. But I was only living in the past

Don't get me wrong, And You Come From Where ...? knows how to tell a good joke. When Mofsha, a Russian Jewish grandfather, refuses to be dead, an angel (cleverly named Angel Dust) quips, "One resurrected Jew was enough for the world." And Shapiro knows how to have a good time; late in the show, he invites members of the audience to dance with him. Eventually, most of the audience is dancing to a reggae song.

If this sounds like another one-man show, it's not. Well, not really. Barbara Manson and Steve Marcum contribute their acting and musical talents. And though the acting provided a much-needed break from the muddled story and the music was beautiful, I found myself longing for Shapiro's opening character and story.

I'm okay with And You Come From Where ...? I can say that now. We still talk. And I know better.

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And You Come From Where ...?, Brian Shapiro, Cultureworks, Barbara Manson, Steve Marcum

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