I went to see Jon Bennett’s one man play, “How I Learned to Hug” at the Dragon Arts Collective venue on Saturday night. And I have to say it would be a great play to go see on the weekend after a few drinks.
I’d taken the play’s title literally and expected something thoughtful yet profound. After all, lots of people have trouble hugging, don’t they?
What I and the audience got was an autobiographical madcap comedy loosely narrated by Jon to an African American immigration official whose picture showed up with some regularity amongst the funny, kitschy PowerPoint slides projected on the screen.
His life unrolls gracefully (or not so gracefully) for us during stories about his relationship misadventures starting in grade school.
Some are silly, some are very, very funny and others are poignant. All are narrated well and with feeling. Because they’re in chronological order we get glimpses of how they affected his psyche over the years.
He has the frankness of Sue Johanson of the “Sunday Night Sex Show” mixed with a lot of charisma.
Like Johanson, he asks members of the audience questions but it’s all part of the fun of the show.
I loved his “Forest Gumping it away” analogy complete with music, video and more that he used for those few situations in his life that he had felt the need to run from.
Even though some of the humour was very “fringish” you could hear a pin drop at times as the audience was enthralled. His stories often spoke to the humanity in us all.
By the end of the show, the immigration official had heard why he’s carrying a can of mace and he’s allowed to go. We’ve heard why he stopped trusting and how he let himself be hugged again.
I found the play amateurish at first but it turned into a surprisingly profound performance by an actor who seems to genuinely care about his audience.
Be warned; raunchy humour coupled with offensive language at the Dragon Arts Collective, 91 Albert St. (3rd floor)
Wed. July 26 at 6:00 p.m.
Thu. July 27 at 5:45 p.m.
Fri. July 28 at 6:45 p.m.
Sat. July 29 at 8:45 p.m.
Sun. July 30 at 3:00 p.m.