Holy smokes. Where do I start? In this remarkable take on the one-man show, Jackie Strait (I cannot for the life of me find the name of the performer in any of the materials about Schedule C Productions from Indiana) finds himself in a straitjacket, bomber hat and safety glasses with a group of people observing him. His ensemble cast includes two ventriloquist’s dummies and a fashion Barbie Doll head who plays dual roles as messed-up but much-loved mom and messed-up but much-loved wife.
I’m not inclined to give you more detail than the program notes about what is “in” the show. Yes, indeed, there is mesmerizing mindreading, crazy karaoke, ventriloquist figures, a soulful song (oh my god, it is really, really soulful) and he does make out with a puppet. You also learn the secret trick as to how you too can get a one-man show in the Cincinnati Fringe.
But the true gift of this show is how the performer combines these absurd elements, mainly straitjacketed, to full comedic effect and always within a beat of deep and concerning pathos. There are some gnarly shadows underlying most believable comedy and Where Is My Mind? plays directly to the darkest recesses of the mind and what might or might not be this performer’s personal narrative.
Is he in the straitjacket because he is crazy? Or because he is tripping? Or is he there, with our eyes on him, because he is in a one-man show? Is it real? Or an illusion? Is our own story real or an illusion? Can pain be side-splittingly funny, too? Can humor be deeply moving? In the hands of Jackie Strait in Where Is My Mind? the answer is “Hallelujah, hell yes.”