It’s a shame that I Squeezed Really Hard in association with The Aviary and the wild project only played for a limited engagement through September 26th. Not only is Anthony Misiano’s show well performed and enlightening, it is well suited for this East Village house.
The set is barren, one chair, two if you count the one that holds his water. Misiano moves about the stage like the hyperactive child, he once was. He tells his life story with a tongue and cheek attitude. However, his life up until High School wasn’t exactly a day at the beach. In his solo performance, the author/actor gives the audience a very detailed description of what it was like to live below the poverty level and to hear gun shots ring out on a regular basis. He was just a little boy, when he witness a stabbing, that released in death.
Whether we want to feel for this actor or not, Misiano will have none of it. He continually makes us laugh at just how ridiculous he, or for that matter, any child could live like he did.
The interesting thing about this play is the many sides the actor gives us: he pokes fun at how soft children are today. He goes on about his own father telling him after a belt wiping that his punishments paled in comparison to what he just received.
He expresses that he was an unusual child and that he had no friends, either by moving so much or that he was indeed a gifted child. Our hearts break for him, despite his bravo.
In ninety minutes we learn so much about his life. We hear about the mother who loved him unconditionally, his grandparents, his stepfather, the uncle and his biological father. In a thoroughly dysfunctional family we see how Misiano was able to deal with the “flower child”, chain smoking mother, the abusive father and his mom’s weirdo girlfriend. Life never seems to bother him as he tells his story, he still seems like a happy child through all the commotion around him.
Under deft direction by Jacob Titus and superb sound and lighting by by Annie Garrett-Larsen, we are always kept in this play.
One person shows have a tendency to get away from the audience at times, but not here; we are kept entertained at all times during his performance. In this heartfelt play one cannot help but reflect on their own lives… the good and the bad. To see the actor have genuine tears at times makes the play resonate on a very serious level, one which is poignant as well as fulfilling to the audience. Anthony Misiano makes light of murder, drugs, stabbings, abuse and double wide trailer home, he is creative enough to be subtle in making us feel his pain.