Daddy Issues (Critic's Pick)

Dealing with a father who is “eight-feet tall, 800 pounds, the biggest man in the world” is the struggle that Peter Aguero takes on his solo fringe show at the Art Academy Studio.

click to enlarge 'Daddy Issues'
'Daddy Issues'

Dealing with a father who is “eight-feet tall, 800 pounds, the biggest man in the world” is the struggle that Peter Aguero takes on his solo fringe show at the Art Academy Studio. Aguero, a regular host for PRX’s The Moth Radio Hour, knows how to spin a good story.He comes onstage in street clothes, stands next to the microphone within his spotlight. He does not move. He speaks to the audience for an hour about the difficulties he had with his father. The only other thing he has on stage is a small table for his water bottle. As he delivers his show, Aguero speaks with an almost deadpan delivery, making the entire focus on his words.This might sound like a recipe for a dull evening, but Aguero’s conviction and the painful memories he recounts keep the audience’s interest throughout. Extra theatrics — different lighting, movement, music cues — would spoil the purity of the experience. His performance is essentially a man baring his soul in front of a live audience, so the “no-up, no-extras” approach to his staging is appropriate.In telling his stories, Aguero sometimes uses the technique of first telling the audience what he wanted to have happen in a situation and then pulling the rug out from under us by saying, in his deadpan tone, “That did not happen.” It’s a daring move that could backfire in the hands of an inexperienced storyteller. Aguero, however, skillfully uses these moments to create psychic scabs over some of the more painful memories and incidents he had to face growing up.Topics of conversation include his father picking up a hitchhiking veteran, his sister’s confirmation party, going to fight a bully at Nelly’s Pond, a Christmas Eve Mass that signaled serious family troubles, his parents’ attempts to reconcile their troubled marriage and his own experiences being on his own and getting his life back together. Aguero’s stories become the backdrop to discuss his father and, ultimately, the nature of manhood in modern America. Most men have unresolved daddy issues, so there is enough here to strike a chord with men in the audience. This show might not be for everyone. The subject matter, Aguero’s confessional delivery and the lack of theatrical elements might turn off some audience members. However, if you have daddy issues or want to hear a show that’s truly authentic, this one is for you.

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