BWW Review: Raquel Cion's ME AND MR. JONES: MY INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH DAVID BOWIE Stands Out at Pangea
Raquel Cion's show ME AND MR. JONES: MY INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH David Bowie is a much-praised and oft-recommended piece of theater, so I honestly didn't think she needed another review of a show that has already garnered so much attention; but when I looked around the room at PANGEA last night to see 15 of us, I thought "this isn't right." Ninety minutes later, as I bundled up to head out into the cold, I knew it wasn't right because Me and Mr. Jones (please forgive the abbreviated title) is one hell of a great night of entertainment and this writer sits at his computer a mere seven hours later, furiously typing as fast as he can to get the word out: hie thee to Pangea at 178 2nd Avenue for tonight's 9:30 show. There will be other performances of Me and Mr. Jones, but why wait? Just go check out the action tonight and you won't be sorry.
Most people have a celebrity for whom they have a strong attachment, or maybe it's a TV show, a certain graphic novel or comic book, an author, a singer, a sports figure... we all (with rare exception) have the experience of being devoted to someone or something in the extreme. Remember the movie Garbo Talks and Ann Bancroft's devotion to Greta Garbo? Or Dumplin' and how Dolly Parton was a beacon of light for Willow? That's the kind of connection you need to think of when considering Raquel's Cion's relationship with David Bowie... and then multiply that by ten.
Ms. Cion has a story to tell about this legendary artist who has informed nearly every moment of her life and she tells that story with epic monologues that change, stylistically, throughout the evening, sometimes sounding like beat poetry, other times like haiku, and sometimes like a sonnet. She speaks directly to the audience as though over a glass of Merlot or maybe a pot of tea, and she performs as a Guare-ian actor delivering a monologue to a rapt audience. Never once, with all of these varying styles, does Cion appear anything but absolutely genuine, for her message is a simple and powerful one: how she loved this man, how he guided her through life, how he will always serve as a beacon of light for her. Every moment of her show and her performance is honest, with heartfelt, touching, funny, riveting and relatable experiences and emotions that need no explanation. It is a perfect opportunity for a cabaret audience to sit back, enjoy their food, their wine, and the crook of the arm of their date, and let humanity wash over them. Being alone last night with neither food nor drink in front of me, I closed my book, put down my pen and just listened to Raquel Cion's incredible (if occasionally voluble) story and mind-altering music, eyes closed, allowing myself the luxury of floating away on the cloud of satisfaction created by her fascinating and accessible personality and her (in appropriate parlance) Effing Awesome Music.
A small and cozy cabaret room is the very last place one would expect to hear what we heard last night at Pangea. With musical director Karl Saint Lucy on piano, Jeremy Bass on guitar, Daniel Shuman on bass and Brandon McClaskey on drums we got the full-on rock and roll treatment, with such glorious and exciting renditions of Bowie's music that the mouth waters, the eyes tear-up, and the ears just cling to every note like a thirsty person in the desert who has found an oasis. This is music for Bowie lovers and rock and roll fans, and this ain't no cover band, kids, these musicians, all of them from Cion at the center mic, back to the boys against the back wall, are artists making the kind of music that will be enjoyed by anyone who loves rock and roll, whether they are Bowie fans or not (is that a thing? People who aren't Bowie fans?). The music, the stories, the costumes (!), the humanity being offered by Raquel Cion during her show Me And Mr. Jones are all a part of what makes her special but, more to the point, they are what makes art and the ability of art to illuminate a special part of our existence as humans. We could stay home and watch Netflix (one of my favorite things to do) or we could go and see someone talk about their idol (not strong enough a word, really) and, out of nowhere, begin to cry. That will remind each of us of the time that KD Lang's music got us through a bad break up, or how the novel Emma set the tone for who we would be as an adult, or when a Diane Lane movie got us out of a suicidal depression. There is no person who will see Me and Mr. Jones who will not be moved by Cion's story, even if they are not a fan of David Bowie -- and when they leave the show, they will not only be a fan of Mr. Bowie's they will be a fan of Raquel Cion's.
For information and tickets to ME AND MR. JONES please visit the Pangea website
Find Raquel Cion and Me and Mr. Jones here
Me and Mr. Jones is expertly directed by Cynthia Cahill
To see a trailer of ME AND MR. JONES click here
Photos by Stephen Mosher