Guilt – by John Fugelsang
The Parker Playhouse – 05/19/12
Fort Lauderdale, FL
The house that guilt built is strong and sturdy. The house that guilt built is determined and unwavering. The house that guilt built is self-aware, socially astute and hilarious. And most of all the house that guilt built was alive and well at the Parker Playhouse this past weekend when John Fugelsang (www.johnfugelsang.com) presented his self-penned, one-person show titled Guilt.
With many film and tv appearances to his credit, John is best known as a social-political comedian and commentator, having made regular appearances on major cable news programs and with Bill Maher. But as an actor, Mr. Fugelsang captures the energy, charisma and excitement of legendary monologist such as Dick Gregory, Lenny Bruce, Whoopi Goldberg and Spalding Grey. The sense of reason in his writing, timing in his performance, and engagement with his audience made for a thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining and thought-provoking evening.
As a platform, the one-person show may be the ultimate theatrical enterprise, as there is only The Actor on stage. There are no fellow thespians around to engage them, to converse with them or, most importantly, to reach out and throw them a life line when a moment of amnesia leaves them treading water. But John performed brilliantly in a non-stop, finely tuned, precision acted, ninety minute performance that, except for pause of breath, didn’t miss a beat. After all, you try talking non-stop for ninety minutes without taking a sip of water. And John talked fast, moved fast and sipped fast.
The story line of John’s autobiographical work is of a catholic boy, raised in catholic guilt, by catholic parents who are both ex-clergy, trying to resolve the pressure one parent’s life-threatening illness imposes upon him to marry his ten-year, ex-medical student, artist girlfriend. Throw in a decade long excursion to Africa, a near life altering drug bust, and inedible brownies, then you get the idea. Ultimately, the driving force behind this slice-of-life documentary of everything unspeakable – sex, politics, and religion – lies in the fact that unlike Jewish guilt, with its built-in, once-a-year amnesty program, catholic guilt is 24-7-365 for a lifetime without reprieve. It’s always there, always available, and always able to find you, bind you, and remind you of who and what you are supposed to be, whether you want to be or not. But in the end, John helps us to understand that terminal illnesses aren’t always terminal, that religiosity is not as important as those who serve it, and that guilt can just as easily bond us as tear us apart. And he does it all with excitement, humor, and even a little danger.
So here’s to the house that guilt built and playwright John Fugelsang’s wonderful performance. And the next time your life gets a bit shaky, the foundation starts to crack, or the paint starts to peel, remember that nothing holds stronger, lasts longer, or grips tighter than guilt. And you can find it at Home Depot. Just look in the aisle labeled G for guilt. Or maybe it’s in the aisle labeled F for Fugelsang.