Archives for September 2023

THE CHAIR ON THE DOOR (Fringe review)

Yeah, baby! This is how you do it. Travis Abels’s autobiographical solo show is about growing up in a doomsday cult. His church had particularly stringent prohibitions about sex but, when Travis was 12 — I’m going to refer to the theatrical character as Travis in this review — he started getting feelings “like a bottle of Sprite being shaken up inside” him. His dad was a preacher in the church and could deliver the brimstone, but Abels does a great job of showing his father as fully human: his dad laughed at crows; his dad and mom would shout “Emergency!” to one another whenever they needed a snuggle. Great details like this help to build great stories. And The Chair on the Door is a story that belongs in the theatre. In a central metaphor, Travis stuffs his sexual feelings into his bedroom closet. A monster grows ever bigger in there — and it demands to be fed. Abels has created an excellent soundscape, so we hear the slathering beast, creaking doors, and even an ironic narrator. The script is bursting with resonant imagery. Even when Travis is 22 and has been living a sexually adventuresome life in LA, he goes home to Indiana to find that his dad’s hug is a relief, “like homeostasis.” On meeting a romantic interest: “I hear this wild laugh. It sounds like a drunk saxophone.” And a kiss is “like early summer.” Abels is a freely physical, funny, openhearted performer. Go see this one.

At The Nest. Remaining performances on September 9 (9:30 pm), 10 (2:15 pm), 13 (9:15 pm), 15 (5:00 pm), and 16 (4:45 pm). Tickets

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