Inever wrote the essay about my sort of-ex that I had intended to, one that started out drawing the ironic comparison between his flawed communication style and inconsistent articulation of his desires with the fascination he had (which he then shared with me) in the flawed communication style and inconsistent articulation of desire, of the women on the Real Housewives of New York. It was intended to be a poisoned lollipop of a personal essay, a mode I generally avoid, vacillating between the mild transgressions of someone who didn’t know what they wanted, the person who got strung along, and the perhaps unusual pop culture artifact that functioned as the bridge between them. But that essay and its banal details — the improprities of a fuckboi are seldom all that interesting — would have been its own green screen backed, ill-lit framed confessional. It would have been both something truthful and attention seeking, not so much inauthentic as necessarily theatrical, and, had it been published, another invitation to flog oneself publicly. It could have all been a grandiosely told lie, but that would not really have mattered; the only thing that did matter was the impulse to narrativize something like heartbreak into something that was consumable.
There’s little else to do with one’s feelings these days. You feel them and then what? If there’s no one to perform them for, did they ever really happen? The question of whether a performance is still a performance if there’s no one there to watch isn’t new, but the ways in which it’s been inverted (if there’s nothing to watch, did anyone perform?) does feel strikingly of a recent moment, a recent condition.
Early in Kim David Smith’s show Morphium, someone let out a “Woo!” at the end of one of his songs. He grinned – or was it a smirk? – and, hands outstretched, quipped, “10 points to Slytherin!” Such an offhand, improvised remark becomes an indicator for Smith’s on stage persona. He is, proudly I would add, not your grandmother’s cabaret performer. Rather, his sly attitude and his mix of casual and biting delivery, and his deliberately femme mannerisms can be compared rather favorably to Alan Cumming’s iteration of the Emcee in Hal Prince’s Cabaret. (Smith has spent time at the Cape Playhouse in that role in their production of the musical.) But the most curious thing about Morphium is its subversion of how cabaret theater is supposed to operate: instead of revealing everything, the heart is guarded by cutting wit. Read the rest of this entry »