City Paper is not for tourists
Remaining Performances (tickets available here):
Saturday, July 18 at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, July 19 at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 25 at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 26 at 6 p.m.
They Say: When a eulogist realizes that what he’s written contains faux pas, he goes off-book, only to release a torrent of characters – each delightfully blasphemous in his or her own way. The only tears at this funeral come from laughing.
Gabi’s Take: Equal parts masterfully executed and brilliantly conceived, Michael Burgos’ The Eulogy can only be described as a triumph. Burgos delivers an uproarious one-man performance that had the audience beguiled from the very first scene.
Tasked with eulogizing Tomas—an ex-roommate who died after eating too many fried eggs—Burgos illustrates the unfortunate life of Tomas through the lens of multiple characters. Burgos effortlessly morphs into each persona with remarkable finesse—from nervous British man to soulful southern pastor, each dialect is delivered with a pacing that is disarmingly methodical.
While the play is as hilarious as it is genius, Burgos manages to breathe life into a subject as daunting as mortality. The Eulogy grapples with all the ways in which we memorialize, romanticize, and even criticize the deceased. The play dares to poke fun at one of our most common, latent fears: How will we be remembered and perceived after we are gone? Burgos not only answers through song, dance, and marshmallow-roasting with the ashes of the deceased, but he gets the audience to take part in his eulogy.
One audience member is tasked with slapping Burgos. Another viewer was addressed as Tomas’ widow and had to endure aggressive flirtation from an advantageous—and delightfully charming—Latin eulogist. The eager audience participation only enhances Burgos’s acrobatic comedic delivery, and at some points we don’t realize what is scripted and what is improvisation.
There comes a time when a critic knows they have witnessed the next big thing. It didn’t occur to me when bodies flooded the cramped space just for a seat at this sold-out show (people were literally sharing the very edge of a bench at the side of the stage). I may have gotten an inkling when audience members leaned into their laps, clutched their stomachs, and desperately gasped for air in between uproarious laughter (at one point, even I had to set aside my notepad just to wipe away tears streaming down my face).
All of those things are good indicators, but the moment I realized that this play was the beginning of a comedic cult classic was at the very end. No one wanted to leave. We sat there, looking around at one another, wondering what had just happened to us. Michael Burgos happened to us. And we want more.
See it if: You’d like the privilege of saying “I saw Michael Burgos before he was famous.”
Skip it if: You’re dead inside.
Photo courtesy of Michael Burgos