BWW Reviews: CAUGHT ONE HANDED at Annex Explores Humor and Pain of Religious Abuse
Religion, sex, scandal, underwear and Britney Spears. No, it's not the latest Republican Senator's misdeeds but the autobiographical one-man show, "Caught One Handed" from writer and performer Noah Duffy. And while structurally it may have a few issues, thematically it's a powerful piece filled with humor and heart and a wonderful way to open a dialog on a difficult subject, that of abuse in the guise of religion.
Performer and author Noah Duffy seems to have it all as an accomplished actor, singer, writer and dancer (not to mention stripping comedian). But his energetic and bright spirit has grown out of a tumultuous past that might have crushed others. But Duffy has taken that past and laid it out for our amusement and edification. Duffy explores his childhood in a highly religious home where his flamboyant nature lands him into years of anti-gay conversion therapy. But all the while his situation is treated as a very public illness to be cured, his father's unhealthy attraction to Noah's young friends is all but swept under the rug until it becomes too much to contain.
Now, my readership knows of my distaste for other people's therapy on stage. And while Duffy is certainly (and self admittedly) exorcising some demons, his ability to laugh at it all and bring us all into the joke makes the ride through a horrific past not so devastating for us onlookers. Yes, the structure at times is problematic. Sometimes the pacing does lag and the show lacks a solid through line and conclusion but Duffy still manages an inviting and welcoming arena where these topics can be discussed. And not just by Duffy but by the entire audience as he invites participation in an on stage talk back after each show.
Part frank discussion and part funny and sexy entertainment with the occasional dance break and striptease thrown in for good measure, "Caught One Handed" manages a sweet and caring message from a tale of horrifying oppression. With its structure issues it could use a little help but it still deserves attention and I give it a YAY with my three letter rating system and not just because Duffy shows off a little skin. But that doesn't hurt.