Review: The Terms of My Surrender

This show goes unexpectedly very gay at the end. No Michael Moore isn’t gay (heaven forfend), but there are several delicious, completely apolitical, payoffs at the finale, which made this an even more satisfying evening for me. The Terms of My Surrender was already pretty satisfying, as I am definitely a part of the anti-Trump choir that Moore is preaching to in this often funny, often disturbing dolled-up political rally.

Because, make no mistake about it, much of Terms is what you’d expect: an anti-Trump screed, by turns despairing and gleeful. But ultimately it is more than that, it’s a call to action in the most general of terms. Moore exhorts his audience to get involved in the political process any way they can, and uses stories from his own life – mostly from before his career as a famous filmmaker and author – to drive home the truth that one person can make an enormous difference, and you don’t have to be famous or wealthy to do it. Moore’s own journey began with a trip to a vending machine to get a bag of Ruffles chips; beginnings don’t get more humble than that.

He even gives you a remarkably easy way to begin making that difference, which I will link to here: the website and app 5calls.org. Together with Moore, I urge you to go there now and start being part of the solution. And definitely go see Terms of My Surrender, it is a marvelous and surprisingly entertaining bit of encouragement in these dark days. Recommended.

Remember, 5calls.org!

For tickets, click here.

To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.

Review: Nellie McKay

Nellie McKay is a highly individual talent, a supreme stylist, with wild, crazy creativity and substantial musical intelligence to match her razor-like interpretive ability. To mark the 50th anniversary of the book Silent Spring – the first major expose of pesticides in the environment – McKay has put together a special show about its author Rachel Carson, the trailblazing environmentalist.

The key word in that last sentence is “special” – this is cabaret as only Nellie McKay could do it. She does the entire act while literally playing the role of Rachel Carson, right down to period-accurate costumes and props. And period-accurate music and speaking styles as well. I’ve noticed her perfectionist sense of history before, but it has never been on as complete display as it is in this act.

She also knows when to break out of time and place to make a point. She performs Neil Young’s 1970 song “Ohio” while enacting Carson’s study of the effects of pesticides on birds in the 1950s. Through using the anachronistic song, McKay subtly makes the point that Carson was way ahead of her time. And the musicianship is beyond reproach – there are occasional off-key harmonies, but those are also clearly stylistic choices as well.

The act is so complex, in fact, that it seems decidedly under-rehearsed. This is experimental performance art meeting high society cabaret, and is very much a case of immensely talented people stretching their abilities to their limits. That it is as swimmingly successful as it is, is no small achievement.

McKay’s combination of irony and heart-on-sleeve sincerity is utterly unique, her performance style multifarious and unpredictable. She’s a true original, and it’s an exceptional pleasure to see and hear her take such exciting risks in such an intimate setting.

For tickets, click here.