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David Schmader builds up, tears down in solo show
Writer David Schmader's touching one-man show at Hugo House reminds us that occasionally, there's some good out there in the world, if you stop beating yourself up long enough to notice.
Special to The Seattle Times
'A Short-Term Solution to a Long-Term Problem'By David Schmader. Through Feb. 4 at Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave., Seattle; $20 (206-322-7030 or www.hugohouse.org).
Some people are harder on themselves than they ought to be. Certainly a lot of writers — isolated, introspective, self-doubting — are like that.
Then there's David Schmader, longtime columnist for Seattle newspaper The Stranger, as well as the playwright-star of "A Short-Term Solution to a Long-Term Problem." Schmader's touching, one-man show, premiering at the Richard Hugo House, finds the self-deprecating journalist-monologist giving new meaning to "doomstruck."
In one of the funniest moments in this alternately ironic and sweet-natured piece, Schmader illustrates (with the help of video projection) a surefire way to induce self-loathing and guilt. Since his youth, he says, he has imagined a jury composed of infamous 20th-century brutes (including Danny Glover's abusive character in "The Color Purple") savagely second-guessing him at every turn.
If, for example, Schmader experiences the thrill of an epiphany, the joy doesn't last long. The jury's collective voice bitterly asks why he didn't know what he now knows yesterday.
Schmader movingly reveals how this penchant for beating up on himself (born, he says, of always anticipating the worst as a gay kid growing up in Texas) has factored into personal and global tragedies, as well as his later skepticism that a lover, Jake, might dump him after discovering Schmader is HIV-positive.
The story of Schmader, Jake and the latter's Mormon family all bonding — in the face of church hostility toward gays — gives this show a beautiful rise and a little jolt of restored faith in people.
But lest we get too carried away with the good and the nice, Schmader would have us remember we live in a world with endless fodder for existential agony. That's precisely where the titular "short-term solution" of blackly comic diversions comes in.
Director Matthew Richter keeps the appealing, slightly bearish Schmader moving at a good clip. This storyteller doesn't so much pour his heart out as construct himself — doubts, passions, distractions and all — before our eyes.
Tom Keogh: email@example.com