Dallas — A few times throughout his show about working with patients with dementia, Crossing Your I’s, playing as part of the 2014 Dallas Solo Fest at the Margo Jones Theater, performer John Michael Colgin has to tell the audience when it is and isn’t okay to laugh. Which serves as a good summary of the sometimes entertaining and touching, yet sometimes uncomfortable, meandering and ponderous solo show.
The show follows two intersecting story lines. One traces John Michael’s time as an engagement assistant at home for people with dementia. The other is him coming face to face, on several occasions with his own future demented self. Specifically, the older John Michael, in the throes of dementia, wants to tell his younger self something, but can’t seem to remember it.
The show is an obvious, and self-aware, maturation for Colgin to the point that he even works it into the show via a conversation with his older self. For Colgin, despite only being in his mid 20’s, is already a veteran of the Dallas stage as a solo performer. It’s easy to chart his progression, and this is progress—both in his writing and performing. This show is probably the most genuine he’s ever been on stage.
That said, the show isn’t quite ready for primetime—it just needs more work and finesse. Colgin balances a lot of humor and drama simultaneously, which is difficult. Finding the right balance and pacing in a show like this is key, and it’s not quite there yet.
It’s also obvious that something very personal to him—the sudden hospitalization of Margo Jones Theater reinvigorater, John Michael's mentor and the original director of this show, Matt Tomlanovich, with a serious infection—took the show in a new direction. (Erin Singleton stepped in to direct the show.) There are connections of that thread to the one of the dementia subjects of his original story, and it’s affecting; but it can feel like two shows.
John Michael is a talented young performer. The show itself is full of great moments, be they in laughter or tears; probably not dissimilar to what it’s like for him to work with his patients.
» The remaining performances of Crossing Your I's are:
- Friday, May 23, 10:30 p.m.
» To see a full festival schedule, go here