Regular readers here know that I count Josh Kornbluth among my very oldest friends. (“Oldest” as in long-term, of course; Josh is only a month or so older than me. Why is English so balky around this?) I’m proud to say I knew Josh before he was “Josh the incredibly funny monologuist” and “Josh the guy who creates those monologues by improvising in front of live audiences” and “Josh the great interviewer on KQED.” I am one of a tiny group of people who is qualified to say, based on personal experience, that Josh is, beyond those things, also a really great copy editor. Or at least he was, way back when; who knows what the decades have done to his punctuation?
Last weekend I attended the opening of Kornbluth’s new show, “Citizen Josh,” at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. All Kornbluth’s work is autobiographical, but the new piece goes even further than its predecessors, “Love and Taxes” and “Ben Franklin Unplugged,” in making a visceral connection with public life and the political moment.
The theme is, how can a passive, inward-turning citizen find it in himself to become engaged? The tale includes, among many other things, a college thesis that is a quarter-century overdue; a prematurely born baby rescued by a father’s determination and insight; and a misshapen play structure in a Berkeley park that offers good cell-phone reception, lessons in modern art and a hidden history of radical democracy.
“Citizen Josh” has got all the stuff Kornbluth’s fans have come to expect from one of his performances: stories that loop and twist through what seem like hopelessly overextended digressions only to pull themselves together into beautiful perfect knots; veins of playful, offbeat humor running the length of the 80-minute performance, submerging for a few minutes, then popping back into the light; and a passion for trying to understand just what we are all doing together on this planet. The show is a great chance to see a great talent contending with a great issue. You should see it!
[tags]josh kornbluth, citizen josh, monologues, solo shows, magic theatre[/tags]
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