There’s hardly a person out there who hasn’t been touched by a self-actualization movement of one type or another – be it a seminar, a book, a class or a friend whose life has changed and wants to share the experience (or worse yet, has a quota to fill). We’ve all seen it from The Forum to The Secret to est and everything in between. Of course, the thing that makes it so seductive to millions of people is that there’s a glimmer of Truth to it all, shaken (not stirred) with a full jigger of Hope.
Which is why, if you wandered into The Laurie Beechman Theater not knowing what to expect you might assume you’ve stepped into any one of the hundreds of motivational seminars going on around the city – so earnestly is Geoffrey Decas touting the benefits of following the path of The Momentum. So convincing is he, in fact, that through your laughter you’ll have moments of “hey, that’s actually true” and “well, he’s got a point there” and “wow, I’ve felt that way”. Thing is, we’ve all felt isolated, lonely, depressed, no good, shoved aside, glossed over, ruled out, unnecessary, worthless, voiceless (um, stop me at any time here). And we’re all searching for that one thing that will give us purpose, put a spring in our step, a gleam in our eye, light the way, seal the breach, patch the hull, start the motor, pay for the check, and tuck us into bed. So, if something – anything – makes that promise . . . what harm can it do to give it a whirl? So it’s four easy payments of more than we can afford . . . so what? If it works, the benefits are priceless.
The three guides who lead us through The Momentum are also the brilliant writers behind it. Geoffrey Decas, Boo Killebrew and Jordan Seavey have fine tuned the business of self-help into an art; they’ve observed this industry and tossed it back in a way that captures it perfectly yet still winds up being hilarious.
Under Lee Sunday Evans’ direction Decas, Killebrew and Seavey each bring a crazed edge to their performance that hovers right behind them – never overshadowing their presentation or their actions yet never wandering far from their wild-eyed stares either. They’ve mastered the art of blurring the line between homage and parody so skillfully that simply by “getting it” the audience is made to feel smarter after the show; no small feat in an arena these days when so much comedy depends on dumbing things down for cheap and dirty laughs.
Which brings me to my second point. While the first half of the performance is filled with good -sized laughs, the second half is a revelation. I’ve been to plenty of shows that have made me laugh, and a few that have brought me to tears, but can not remember the last time I did both -genuinely- at the same time. Yet, by the last scenes of The Momentum (a pitch perfect send up of the moment which occurs during every self help seminar when it’s time for individuals to “share” – and they do so with such startling honesty that they stun the room into a perplexed silence) I found myself holding back tears yet still laughing heartily. Boo Killebrew’s monologue resonated particularly strongly with me, but all three were heartfelt and powerful so I think it just depends on your own experiences. This show may be going for laughs, but by the end it reaches for so much more . . . and it delivers.
So skip the self-help section and head straight for the Laurie Beecham Theater where the spinning hole of The Momentum is ready to pat you on the head and kiss you good night.
~~~THE MOMENTUM Written and performed by Geoffrey Decas, Boo Killebrew and Jordan Seavey Directed by Lee Sunday Evans Running through February 16, Wednesdays at 7pm The Laurie Beechman Theatre (inside West Bank Cafe) 407 West 42nd Street at Ninth Avenue Tickets are $18 with a $15 food/drink minimum per person, available at 212-352-3101 or www.SpinCycleNYC.com.