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Sex, Dreams, and Self Control Goethe Mainstage

Remaining Performances: Thursday, July 16 at 6:30 pm.  Friday, July 17 at 10:00 pm.  Saturday, July 18 at 7:00 pm.  Sunday, July 19 at 3:30 pm.

They Say: This rites of passage tale presents itself bold and racy, and speaks loudly about sexuality and religion.  With an original alternative folk rock score in which Kevin Thornton croons like a young John Hiatt or a post-Smiths Morrissey.  One guitar.  One man.  A wild ride.

Ann’s Take: I hope years from now we’ll say, “they just don’t write songs like Kevin Thornton used to.” Accompanied by gorgeous guitar riffs and a sweet, melodic voice, no written description can do his songs justice.  You need to hear the refrain “After bible study hand jobs…We’ll read the word of God and then throb…” set to music to understand fully how poignant his lyrics can be.  And lucky for you, you can, tonight and every night this weekend.

But this one-man show is no mere set of folk-rock ditties; Thornton’s got some some rather revealing inter-song chat.  Chronicling his memories of his childhood underwear sanctuary, romantic involvement with a mannequin, procurement of a gay-to-straight self-help book, and a myriad of boy crush stories, he leaves no detail (or STD) unexposed or absurdity unexploited.  But his vivid confessions never dwell on the negative.  Even the most harrowing descriptions are turned on their head with a tender smile and a reminiscent glow.  And this small but important choice moves the “how I learned I was gay” solo performance genre into new, refreshing territory.

While the show is mostly about sex and partly about Christianity, it is also about references to the 80’s.  How long has it been since you thought about Designing Women? Too long, I imagine.  And, remember those Columbia House free mail-order cassette deals? Even the pre-show soundtrack featuring Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody has the audience bopping along with happy anticipation that they are about to be flung back 20 years.  (I saw you chair-dancing in front of me, Gray-Polo-Shirt Guy.)  Thornton’s careful placement of these details adds a richness to the piece that pure, graphic commentary cannot accomplish on its own.

So, to recap.  You’ve got: youth pastor finger-wagging;  a thousand-headed Richard Simmons monster; and a song about hand jobs.  I suggest you take $15 out of the ATM and get down to the Goethe Institut immediately.

See it if: You’ve ever come of age.

Skip it if: You’re looking for something to watch with your 12-year-old niece who is visiting from the Bible Belt.