Because Frigid slots are limited to 60 minutes some shows have needed to trim their original running time. Cutting down some of the material can sometimes break a beautifully crafted piece, as you just can’t fit it all in. Not so for Emleigh Wolf who has been bringing The Terrible Manpain of Umberto MacDougal to various audiences on numerous occasions over the last few years, often in small 5-20 minutes sketches at open mics and other venues. At its current Frigid run at UNDER St. Marks, Wolf really shines as these short skits are able to be united and lengthened. While always humorous, putting Umberto in a full narrative with a beginning, a middle, and a triumphant end makes The Terrible Manpain of Umberto MacDougal something that I think we can all identify with by the conclusion of the performance.
The performance starts with an introduction as to what manpain actually is: (click here for a previous look at Umberto explaining this truth here) :
“Well, manpain is the pain that men feel. Not just any pain but the true emotional depths of a man’s soul. While society may want to frown on it, I assure you, it is one of the more critical topics you will encounter. I hope tonight, to help all the men here, cast off this idea of their unmentionable sentiments and emnbrace the feelings beneath the harsh exterior they’ve been branded with.”
We are then introduced to Umberto’s guitarist, Mike Hamilton, (played by Mike Ogletree) and begin the process of hearing one story after another outlining how Umberto has gained the gifts to deal with his manpain so effectively that he can help us with ours. Besides just being a “melancholy guitarist playing a sorrowful tune”, his accompanying guitarist (Mike Ogletree) really does a great acting job as well. His character is inserted into different parts of the stories being told and interjects just enough to keep the dramatic tension building, and the plot progressing throughout.
Instead of Umberto simply being a character who is parading his troubles, he has trouble with that parade and it becomes overwhelming to him at times, adding a greater dimension to the work as a whole. Umberto talks of his father abandoning him at birth, of the “rental pony” that died at his one and only birthday party, and of his early rejections in love. There was also the lack of success at many things along the way – except for his endeavors in chronicling his manpain (carefully excerpted sections of his journal are then read).
All seems to be a downer, one that drips manpain onto us so thoroughly that even as we laugh, we cry. Then comes the first turning point in the story. One Christmas Umberto, while staying home for Christmas evening alone (his unfortunate usual lot in life) heard a singing, and a wailing in the street, and then the sounds of cops shouting, ready to pull a fellow sufferer of manpain off to jail. This motivates Umberto to dash out to the street, to care for his fellow traveler along life’s dusty and tear-drenched highway, and to help this man fully express his manpain for the first time. Together they cried and talked until the sun rose the next morning. This gave him a friend and ally, Mike Hamilton, who encouraged Umberto to share his gift of understanding manpain to all the world. And so began Umberto’s move away from isolation and toward the present day where we see him now telling his stories, sadly, but sadly in a charismatic way. We are enthralled and want to hear more.
And the more we hear, the more the interaction between Umberto and Mike becomes intense. More and more painful moments are brought up and the audience becomes invested and concerned as Umberto turns less serene in his moroseness, more desperate, confronting the truths he has yet to deal with.
Eventually the stories move to a climax, where Umberto looks like he might be willing to put all of his manpain behind him. It looks like it could all begin to turn around finally, and then…
Well if I told you, I’d spoil the ending for you and rob you of the chance to see the great work that Emleigh Wolf and Mike Ogletree have put together, a capstone on the little journey that Umberto has been making at all the venues in the last few years, which the directing of Bricken Sparacino has helped to move to such a satisfying conclusion.
Well maybe I could give you the end but not the context, because Umberto would want to help us all find some better ways to handle our manpain:
“And now, my new friends, you’ve heard my whole story
The heartache, the torment, and even the glory
For every last man, there’s a pain deep inside
But how you handle that pain is for you to decide
You can allow it to keep you in a prison of woe
Or you can use it to help your inner self grow
Our despair has brought us the ultimate gain
And in that lies the essence of true manpain.
Well, manpain is the pain that men feel.
Not just any pain but the true emotional depths of a man’s soul.”
~~~The Terrible Manpain of Umberto MacDougal Directed by: Bricken Sparacino Feb 26, 7:00PM Feb 27, 6:00PM Mar 02, 7:30PM Mar 03, 2:30PM $13.00 UNDER St.Marks