Stevie Jay Romps Through Life's Big Deals
Review by Deborah Minsky for the Provincetown Banner
What happens when you combine elements of Eastern philosophy,
Judeo-Christian tradition, massage therapy, music, dance,
and raw comedy? The answer is a knockout evening by performance
artist Stevie Jay, who has brought his "Life Love Sex
Death and other works in progress" back to Provincetown
for a two-week run, August 19-31. Described as a "multi-chakra
extravaganza," the show bears little comparison to
other solo theater, nor can any potential audience be fully
advised in advance as to what to expect from Stevie Jay.
His presentation goes far beyond traditional dramatic monologue. It is more an orchestration of highly unusual physical "instruments" carefully blended into a humorous, thought-provoking, outrageous, and touching
dissertation on the joys and sorrows of love pursued and often lost. In the
course of a non-stop 90 minutes, he explores many of life's challenges that
seem intensely personal to him even as they have some measure of resonance
for all viewers.
Stevie Jay engages his audience from the very start.
His tone is intimate, provocative, and at moments affectionate.
One senses that this man likes people but has had to deal
with his share of disappointment. He does not avoid exposing
his own soul.
While much of S.J.'s material is adult in nature, there
is nothing gratuitous about his performance. "Life Love
Sex Death..." is for the thinking person. He draws respectfully
from Elisabeth Kubler Ross and Erich Fromm, and balances
this seriousness with jabs at pop psychology, the self-help
movement, religious fundamentalism and the likes of Cher
and Aretha Franklin. In a running patter of clarification,
he throws in linguistic flourishes and offers the Latin
derivation for key words and concepts.
It's all about the human condition and the frequently sorry state of our world.
As Stevie Jay says by way of introduction: "Earlier today
some guy said to me, 'I believe you're emotionally disturbed.'
DUH! Is this something I should be ashamed of? I've known
this about myself my whole life...well, you're right about
me, I am, indeed, emotionally disturbed—thanks for noticing...how
about you? All the times in your life you've been led on
and lied to? It was disturbing, wasn't it? HOW was it disturbing
to you? It was emotionally disturbing. Or the news—how
do you like turning on the TV and seeing what's going on
around the world? It's emotionally disturbing, isn't it?"
He leaves little room for disagreement there.
Despite the apparent spontaneity of Stevie Jay's performance, it is not
improvisational theater; it is all carefully scripted, with split-second
adjustments for the audience present. Although his personal preferences might be
perceptible, he is adept at bringing everyone in, and lambastes any tendency to
categorize, label or dismiss people on the basis of appearance. He insists that
love and sex are all very private, thank you, but he returns to the subject
frequently and in verbally graphic detail. This paradox manages to keep the audience
on edge even as it amuses us.
You might ask how any one person accomplishes all this without running out of
steam? Good question, and not easily answered, unless you see the show for
yourself. Don't let the opportunity to catch this major talent pass you by.
It is performance art at its very best, and on balmy, late-August evenings,
Stevie Jay should be playing to sell-out crowds, eager to have their minds opened
while exploring deeply serious comedy.