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We're Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time - Public Theater

DrowsyKaye
Understudy
joined:8/27/12
Understudy
joined:
8/27/12

Starting this thread since this new show begins previews at the Public tonight. I caught it at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago last fall and it surprised me in the most heartbreaking, beautiful way. I'm super excited to hear the response from New York audiences. And David Cale is just one of the best storytellers of the stage these days.

Is anyone going tonight, or soon?

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Susanswerphone
Broadway Star
joined:4/26/14
Broadway Star
joined:
4/26/14
Tomorrow night. Very excited! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
broadwayindie
Stand-by
joined:10/3/14
Stand-by
joined:
10/3/14

Didn't know it was at the Public! Also saw this in Chicago, would also recommend. Very different sort of one man musical but absolutely beautiful.

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JBroadway
Broadway Legend
joined:4/6/12
Broadway Legend
joined:
4/6/12
I was at the first preview last night, and had pretty mixed feelings.

I think the story he tells about his family is very compelling, and full of tender emotion. In particular, the way he portrays his mother’s struggles is pretty heartbreaking.

I also really liked the music - the song melodies were nice, but mainly I’m talking about the incidental music, and the orchestrations, which I thought were gorgeous.

My main issue with the show was the song lyrics, which for the most part were really flat and repetitive. Every song had a refrain that was literally just one simple line repeated over and over. And the repeated lyric was rarely anything all that insightful or nuanced. And even when it wasn’t repetitive, it was usually extremely simplistic, with a lot of stuff like “my name is ___, I like to ___, sometimes I feel ____, one time I ____” like we was working off a grade school writing prompt.

I also find it very difficult to pay attention to shows that rely heavily on narration, so I found myself zoning out a lot. Especially early in the show when he was laying out a lot of his family history. But once the main plot about his parents kicked in, I found it inherently intriguing enough that he was always able to get my attention back.

Overall, I think my opinion fell somewhat more on the positive end of the spectrum, but I definitely had big issues with it that kept me from fully enjoying it.
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Susanswerphone
Broadway Star
joined:4/26/14
Broadway Star
joined:
4/26/14

J BRoadway's assertions about lyrical simplicity aren't entirely without merit. Still, this is a beautiful, funny, sad, very personal story of love, loss, forgiveness and strength. I was sooo disappointed to miss this at Under the Radar. It's a gift that the Public brought it forward again. Go, go, go!!!! Do not miss this.

Updated On: 6/15/19 at 11:16 PM
OffOnBwayHi
Understudy
joined:5/30/19
Understudy
joined:
5/30/19
Just came from this show.

I’m not a big fan of one man shows. I find them very difficult to entertain an audience. Most are a snooze fest. This one is pleasantly different!

It’s a one man musical with a six-piece orchestra, and it’s wonderfully executed. The set is very simple — pretty much a black box — but has a few cute surprises.

I agree with JBroadway‘s assessment of the beginning of the show, but once David Cale gets to his mom’s story, it really picks up.

It’s a treat and the first time I’ve seen a one man show pulled off in such a moving way. I teared up at the end.
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Susanswerphone
Broadway Star
joined:4/26/14
Broadway Star
joined:
4/26/14
For anyone interested, this is available on TDF for several dates through June 30.
Natasha22
Swing
joined:5/4/19
Swing
joined:
5/4/19
Saw this tonight. I thought it was absolutely beautiful. Heartbreaking yet hopeful. I was in tears through much of it. He brings his family to life in such a vivid and sensitive way.

Something that really disturbed me was the audience - there were people chuckling at truly tragic things. It was bizarre. Especially considering this is an autobiographical show. I can’t imagine how it must feel to for him to hear some idiot giggle as he recounts the most horrific events of his life. It was disgraceful.

Don’t miss this one. It is brilliant.
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Susanswerphone
Broadway Star
joined:4/26/14
Broadway Star
joined:
4/26/14
Natasha22,
Some people in the audience had the same reaction when I saw it. It's known as inappropriate affect. Most often, it's borne of fear or discomfort. They have a hard time processing tragedy so laughing is a distancing mechanism. If you asked them why they laughed, you'd likely get a blank stare. Many aren't even aware they laugh, let alone why. That it happens here shows just how powerful David's story, and his storytelling, is.
I'm sure he takes it in stride, knowing that it's not intentional.
You're right. The piece is brilliant.