Sunday, June 11, 2006

Leslie's Life in "Like a Dog on Linoleum"

I interrupted my "Another Hole in the Head" festival experience with a LIVE performance!

"Like a Dog on Linoleum", a two hour, autobiographic tour de force by Leslie Jordan. He is deftly directed by David Galligan, who moves him around and elicits a surprising amount of physical prowess and flexibility from Jordan. Jordan never leaves his trademark drawl as he inhabits various characters from his past, however he physically transforms into each one, sometimes to stunning effect. The writing itself is pretty close to the "B" word (aka brilliant). There are moments the audience was laughing so hard you couldn't hear him finish the punchline. There are also two distinct moments when you could have heard a pin drop. The amount of control that he and his monologue have over the audience is quite amazing, really. Though I remember "Lost in the Pershing Point Hotel", which could be considered an artistic milestone for him (producer, screenplay and actor), and of course his 'break out' role in "Sordid Lives", and as well as all of his appearances on "Will and Grace," none of those really do justice to his talent as does witnessing him live, in what is nearly a cathartic performance about his life. He exorcises his personal demons before your eyes, and though the denouement is quite spiritual, he draws a fine line between his spiritual odyssey and his life in organized religion. The hour and a half of alcoholic and drug addled anecdotes that precede his spiritual awakening are hysterical and disarm you for what will be an exceptionally touching climax. The format of the performance is a "presentation" of his life and not so much a monologue. His familiarity with the audience is so personable, it felt improvised. However, the one moment that he broke out of it (he needed to stop briefly to adjust a contact lens) only proved how polished and rehearsed the performance is. Audience members literally jumped to their feet during the ovation. It was a pretty solid 'standing o' that even I, who am generally reluctant to do so, joined in for, if not for the material, but for the truly inspiring solid two hours in which the man worked. I haven't seen such an energetic solo-performance since Kenneth Campbell's marathon of a monologue in London a decade or so ago. And this was, if not more accessible, at least many times more enjoyable!

He's in San Francisco until the first of July or so. Go. See. Him!