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A Life Behind Bars

solo performance · lastage theatre co. · Ages 18+ · one person show · United States of America

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Review by RUSSELL EATON

June 21, 2018 original article
tagged as: adult themes · comedy · lgbt · alcohol · barfly · personal · one man show

What I liked

The staging focuses on Ruth. He has a commanding presence and the characters he brings to life provide all the scenery necessary.

The show does not come off sounding like a message piece, but there is depth here. It can be found in how we recognize in ourselves the acceptance or judgement of the people we meet… and of Dan Ruth himself. This man has seen people at their best and worst and he obviously knows we all crack up a little at some point. And… he’s there to sympathize or expose the truth as he sees appropriate. It’s a wonderful thing to watch happen.

What I didn't like

Personally, I would like to have heard more about the journey Ruth takes in the last portion of the show. By that time, I was so invested in him and his life, I wanted to learn more about what he has been through himself. Even so, he reveals so much truth through the characters he brings to life, this is a compliment that I wanted even more.

My overall impression

Performed by master storyteller Dan Ruth, this show is funny, sad, inspirational, depressing and so many other things.

This is a man who’s been around the streets and alleys of New York nightlife and he has absorbed the details and idiosyncrasies of the people he has mingled with there. Weaving stories together that span a long series of jobs and multiple years working (and drinking) in all types of bars in a city that has all types of bars, Ruth reveals a fascinating life that holds surprising moments of highs and lows. It is compelling to hear about what he has witnessed as confidant and server.

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