Filmed in the empty LA Pico Playhouse to rows and rows of nonreactive seats, Tom DeTrinis (Die, Mommie, Die!) gives us, in full display, his attention-seeking, “look at me” party-self. Demanding so much from us, he stands there and engages in a tongue-battle of epic proportions, and we can’t help but lean in. We know that side of humanity, as we see this side within ourselves. It’s that self that opens up his Making Friends one-man show, whether we like it or not. That persona is excited and a lot to take in, but we recognize it. It is that part that hides inside the proverbial favorite shirt, the one that we think makes us look good or handsome or sexy or skinny or tall or smart as humanly possible. But we also know its a guise. It covers up the self that lurks just underneath the fabric of society, and here, inside that opening bit of Making Friends with Tom, he tells us that he wants to fling that part aside. To take it off and showcase the anger that awaits underneath; that desires, most desperately, to jump forth from behind the laughter curtain of his outsized faggotry, and say “hello, hi“, for take two.
Seething in anger and rage, Tom wants to tell us all that needs to be said by this hidden, now visible self. Thankfully we can all solidly relate, as that other party self becomes almost instantly annoying and I for one was glad to say goodbye to him. This more authentic Tom is much more enticing and electric. In a way, it’s the anger of all our lives, bubbling up into and because of our interactions, our entanglements, and most assuredly, the year 2020. That is how we find our way into this dynamic piece, as it is an emotional raw space that pretty much everyone can understand and dig into.
In this one-man show DeTrinis explores his angry sex-crazed brain for us all to breath in and digest. It’s that kind of attention that isn’t good for a self-described worry wart, but makes for great compelling theatre, even in an empty space without the needed reactions of a live audience. The monologue unearths what lies beneath the historic and the immediate. He submerges down into the depths of that rage through wit and self analyzations, giving us a different view of the whole iceberg, not just the tip. His clearly defined impressions of bartenders and landlords to different fantastical versions of his unknown gay uncle find truth against the standards of the world around him. He proclaims quite strongly and confidently that this “weird as fuck guy“, surprisingly, doesn’t have the easiest time Making Friends, and for that, we all take the note. In his raw self diagnosing fury, he has found a way to craft a version of the tale that makes for delicious unique theatre, one that I would love to have the opportunity to take in live one day, and eat it all up, like cheese on a stick at a party made for passionate creatives. It would be heaven, at least for the ones who like cheese.
DeTrinis, who wrote and is starring in this IAMA Theatre Company production, finds truth and authenticity is his compelling demands, taking us through his mind like a pinball wizard racking up the points with the loud clangs of excited performative energy. With the assist by the well-tuned direction of Drew Droege (Bright Colors, Bold Patterns), the one act piece of theatrical exploration pulls and pushes us back and forward with expert pace and focus. Filing it under that “time with the roaches“, DeTrinis has little problem unveiling and alienating the audience, especially the ones (like me, specifically) who love and miss NYC with a passion (especially as I ride out the pandemic in Canada), and who don’t really enjoy the world of L.A., with feisty aplomb, as he does it from the vantage point of clearly defined observations that can’t be denied. His skill resides in those moments, because we can happily agree, while disagreeing without the need to defend and retreat. We embrace and enjoy, cause, really, as he (and I) can most wisely state, “I saw Rent. I know things.”
Making Friends delivers with a gusto too impossible to ignore. He gets the laughs while also digs into the angry truth without ever losing focus on the need to engage. It’s vulnerable while being aggressive, and somewhere in its authenticity, we can hold hands happily with the alienation and the addiction to connection. The historics pull us in, but it’s his empathy and energy that hold us to the life-embracing, dance-worthy end. Making Friends is a show I completely want to make friends with fully. Even if the man doesn’t like NYC.
Making Friends will be available for streaming starting on December 17th through January 11, 2021 with digital tickets starting at $15 by IAMA Theatre Company. Tickets will be sold in weekly blocks and include access to a variety of supporting live events. The creative team for Making Friends includes “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” choreographer Kathryn Burns, lighting designer Donny Jackson and stage manager Estey DeMerchant. Donna Simone Johnson and Melissa Stephens co-produce for IAMA Theatre Company. For more information on ticketing, streaming and satellite events, go to www.iamatheatre.com.
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