Dallas — Before every performance at the second annual Dallas Solo Fest, Audacity Theatre Lab Artistic Director and DSF founder Brad McEntire tells the audience that there are many kinds of solo performance this year, and he’s right. There’s memoir, cabaret, clowning, first person storytelling, extended comedy routines, dream analysis and a riff on classic literature—with most works combining several of those descriptions.
But the only one that elicits genuine tears—from emotion, not laughter, although it’s plenty funny—is by Oklahoma native, SMU grad, former New Yorker and returning Dallas resident Brigham Mosley, whose Mo[u]nin’. After. is the DSF highlight. (This assessment comes after seeing seven of the eight shows—I missed one that was quite popular, and raved about, Jill Vice’s Tipped & Tipsy.)
The autobiographical piece, directed by Laura Hix, deals with him returning to Oklahoma, hoping to tell his beloved, dying grandfather that he is gay. I won’t spoil if that indeed happens (here’s hoping another theater picks this up—it’d be perfect for Uptown Players’ Pride Fest), but there’s a deeply felt, poetically written and beautifully constructed path to the end of this particular story.
Mosley uses the device of the dream ballet, specifically the one that broke musical theater ground in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, putting himself in Laurey’s toe shoes. There are also funny bits about Ado Annie and Aunt Eller, a lovely reading of the song “People Will Say We’re in Love,” and other references to one of the few musicals that truly deserves its exclamation point. In all that, he weaves threads about shamanism, via the Native Americans of his home state, and some reality from a camp counselor and former Wiccan named Kandi. He finds clever ways of referring to his many facets, such his italicized self.
If you don’t shed a tear after the scene that causes him to mist up—without a whiff of contrivance—you might want to check for a pulse.
Mosley talks fast and as his thoughts quickly shift, he never misses a beat. Background video (mostly from the film of Oklahoma!) adds to the theatricality. A clothesline fits the theme and provides a handy outlet for minor costume changes.
He told TheaterJones in this interview that he’s excited to be back in Dallas and pursuing his theatrical dreams here. If his other work is as strong as Mo[u]rnin’. After., which has the perfect amount of theatrical fringe on top, he's got a dream worth a keepin'.
» Brigham Mosley's Mo[u]rnin'. After. has one more performance at DSF:
- Saturday, June 13 @ 9 p.m.
» Read our Q&A with Brigham Mosley here
And you can follow our coverage of the 2015 Dallas Solo Fest in our special section, here.