“The Tricky Part”: Play Review

It was good to get back to Ranga Shankara and theatre after a long hiatus, and it so happened that it was a play from the land I had left behind!

Poorna Jagannathan Productions was staging, as part of the Martin Moran India tour, his play, “The Tricky Part”.

The play, written and performed by Martin Moran, is the story of his life.  Between the ages of 12 and 15, he had a sexual relationship with a much older man, who was actually a counselor he met at a Catholic boys’ camp. How he resolves the ancient conflicts, and his “fall from transgression into grace” form the script.  

Here is the Wiki entry about the play,which won the Obie Award in 2004. Martin has evolved  the play from his  book, which won an award for gay non-fiction in 2006. 

The play is unusual in that it is the actor talking to the audience, and Martin segued into the conversation so neatly that it took a minute or two to realize that this was, indeed, the play, and not the introduction to it. 

At times, he addressed the audience; at times, he seemed to take a step back from the narration by apparently reading aloud from his journal. It was very unusual to have an actor directly looking at the audience and addressing them, through the 85 minutes of the play.  

Martin did not pull his punches; the description of the first seduction was described in harrowing detail, as were many of the emotions and the turmoil that he experienced. One can marvel on many levels; the courage it must take to bring these facts out into the sunlight (or the stage lights); to treat the incidents with a leavening of humour, keeping the audience riveted through the duration of the play. It is no mean physical feat, too, to talk with such intensity for an hour and a half. Perhaps many stagings of the play has given him some distance, but it was deeply disturbing for the audience…hearing about someone’s attempts to commit suicide was certainly a new experience for me. 

I must mention the lighting. Changing the focus, and the mood of the play, highlighting only the actor at times and the whole stage at others, the lighting contributed immensely to the effectiveness of the play. The excellent brochure produced for the set of two plays does not give lighting credits; perhaps the playwright “trains” someone at each venue!

The stage set was very simple indeed; a chair, along with some simple props, was all that was needed. Martin wore everyday clothing, so there was no “costume” element as such. 

The direction by Seth Barrish was of a very high order. The best direction is that which is hardly felt. No doubt Martin’s being word-perfect with the script, and having a personal experience of the events described makes for more intensity, but the deft direction made the staging a telling experience.

I had earlier watched a video trailer of the play here. Amazingly, he looks much younger on stage than he looks in this video!  

Poorna’s message in the brochure was also very moving, quoting  Frederick Douglass: “It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men.” Sexual abuse of girls may at least be talked about now, but that of boys, hardly ever.  

Considering that it was a working day, there was a reasonable house, which felt quite encouraging (and the audience was humorously thanked by the playwright!) 

However, as the audience filed out in sombre mood, one of them remarked, “It was moving, but we face so much of this, and fight so many battles each day, it’s difficult to face, and I’d rather have something more relaxing and easing at the end of a hard working day.” Perhaps this remark would help explain why such social evils exist and thrive in our society.


“The Tricky Part”

Written and performed by Martin Moran

Directed by Seth Barrish

Produced by Poornima Jagannathan

85 min.

Ranga Shankara, 11 and 12 Nov 2014.


Another  solo performance by the same playwright, “All the Rage”, is being performed at Ranga Shankara on Thursday, 13 November 2014.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Nature Feature: A dinner invitation

"Will you walk into my parlour?" Said the spider to the fly. "I've spread a carpet of silk and diamonds! Walk in, and don't be shy! Do come along, for I grow thinner... I've LOVE to have you, ahem, for dinner!" Jokes apart, Funnel Web Spiders also called Wolf Spiders, are named because of the funnel-like web they weave...and the second name is given because they are ferocious predators. They build a flat sheet of nonsticky web with a funnel-shaped retreat to one side or occasionally in the middle, depending on the situation and species. The typical hunting mode is…

Similar Story

Theatre Review: “Credit Titles” by Bangalore Little Theatre

It was like a rare alignment of the planets: several factors come together to pull me out of my usual Ranga Shankara ambit for watching a play. I had not been to visit Bangalore International Centre, which opened a while ago in Domlur; Bangalore Little Theatre, as part of their "VP 80" festival, was staging "Credit Titles"; the play, written by Vijay Padaki, whose 80th birthday the festival marks, was based on a story by Vinod Vyasulu, an eminent economist whom I've known for a long time, as our daughters share a cose friendship dating from 1988. And last but…