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The Terrorism of Everyday Life Warehouse Next Door
Remaining performances: Saturday, July 18th, 11:30p.m. Sunday, July 19th, 6:00p.m. Saturday, July 25th, 9:00p.m. Sunday, July 26th, 3:00p.m.
They say: Winner of the presitigious Herald Angel Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Ed Hamell combines storytelling, comedy and songs into a brilliantly outrageous theatrical event covering the Beatles, odd jobs, his son’s birth and the shocking death of his parents.
Brett’s take: Phew. Wow. Okay: When, at the end of the show, Mr. Hamell says, “It ain’t for everybody,” he ain’t kidding. It was for me; I think it should be for you; but there is definitely a demographic or two for whom this ain’t. Political conservatives are one. Neat-clean-PC liberals are another.
“But wait,” you say; “then who’s left?” My friends, in this day and age we can sometimes forget there are more than just those two groups. Hamell is a representative of an oft-forgot type: the vulgar, in-yer-face, sex, drugs, rock n’ roll liberal. An original glam rocker from the early 70’s, Hamell has not yuppie-ized or lost his edge whatsoever. He looks and dresses like a snazzy jazz man, or a Beatnik, or your cool uncle who can drop references to the Lovin’ Spoonful as quickly as to Wilco. He plays one heckuva mean amped-to-11, beat-up ’37 Gibson acoustic punkabilly guitar and sings and talks in an unexpectedly high-pitched, fluid voice which somehow makes him seem much more honest than if he sported the gravelly thirty-years-of-booze voice you might expect.
There’s little plot: Hamell races back and forth like a jackrabbit on speed from tongue-twisting observational spoken blues song to racy jokes to unapologetic politicking to surprisingly honest confessions. Although Hamell has a script, he constantly deviates from it, even cutting himself off mid-song to tell us something he was just reminded of; invariably, his extemporaneous aside is hilarious or insightful or both. He informs us that Martin Scorsese is more rock n’ roll than Maroon 5. He sings a song about his love for part of the female anatomy, in which the chorus sounds like a play for the attention of a cat. He lets us know the show was originally based largely on anti-Bush diatribes (which is why the title no longer has much signficance), but now that the Presidency’s changed hands we’ll have to do with a dirty-yet-somehow-flattering Michelle Obama joke. He cuts immediately from his most hilariously off-color song to a blunt and shocking account (and it truly is) of the death of his parents—-before going into a second song that almost celebrates it.
How often do you get the chance to absorb the wisdom of a guy who’s seen it all (crack bars, John Lennon, a happy marriage and parenthood) and still retained both his anarchistic political convictions and his raunchy sense of humor? Judging by the award he received from the extremly picky Edinburgh Fringe—-not so often indeed.
See it if: You need to get yourself shocked, thought-provoked, enlightened, entertained, challenged, or tickled pink. Or you’d like to shout “Fuck it!” in chorus with an audience full of young and old.
Skip it if: When Hamell says, “I know my demographic,” he’s not talking about you—-i.e., you can’t deal your sensibilities towards Bush, euthanasia, feminism, casual drug use, Obama or music being offended.