Issue 60

The Terms of His Surrender 

Add another “must see” show to your list. Michael Moore’s “The Terms of My Surrender” at the Belasco Theater on Broadway is entertaining, extremely relevant, and engaging.

It has gotten mixed reviews, however, from the very positive review in Rolling Stone (beware of spoilers), to the extremely negative trashing by Jesse Green, the new and apparently politically tone-deaf NYT theater critic. He was just plain nasty accusing Moore of being a narcissistic braggart who is only in it for himself. Ironically this couldn’t be further from the truth and brings to mind the so-called POTUS’s infantile MO, “I know you are, but what am I?”

Speaking about his personal motivation for developing the show and performing on Broadway, Moore indicated we need to resist and fight the Dumpster on many levels simultaneously including:

1) Mass citizen action;

2) Run candidates who can win;

3) Tie him up with court orders and injunctions; and, my personal favorite

4) Form an Army of Satirists with the belief that we can bring him down with humor, comedy and ridicule — simply because his awfully thin skin just can’t take it.

I committed to doing everything I could, in every venue open to me — film, television, books — but I also decided it was time for me to try something new, something different. Change it up because the old ways no longer work.”

Continuing my alliterative references, “Terms” was informative, insightful, and hopefully inciteful [pardon my poetic license]…the not so subtle subtext throughout is, Hey America, we’ve all got to get off our asses and do our part for The American Resistance (he makes several apt and timely references to the French Resistance against the Nazis in WWII).

Moore even jokes about running for president in 2020, but on a more serious note reminds us that being an active participant in the American Resistance is not particularly difficult, or all-consuming. For example, he chides us to revise our morning ritual of 1) Get up, 2) Get dressed, 3) Brush teeth, 4) Drink coffee to include one more step: 5) Make 5 short phone calls to your elected officials using the using the 5Calls phone app.

IMG_7716At times he pleads and even shouts at us to get our attention.  The opening line of the show is “How the fuck did we get here?”  His approach is not for self-aggrandizement as the NYT review more than implies, but because he’s dedicated to bringing progressive change to this country and has been using his talents as an author and Oscar-winning film maker to that end for many years.

While he may not win a Tony for his acting, singing, and dancing (yes, he does all three over the course of the show), this reviewer felt it was a heartfelt, genuine, moving, and important performance. So much of our entertainment is pure escapism (don’t get me wrong – I need a break from time to time like everyone else)…but Moore successfully combines the satirical with the somber, the call for comedy with the call for action.

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Moore taking his theater audience to a pop-up Dumpster rally

Moore is flexible too, and updates/modifies the script to reflect the daily horror show being broadcast from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (lots of stuff on Bannon’s departure that day.) He frequently has guest stars show up for the night ala late night talk show format. Tonight it was Keith Oberman, who appeared equally at ease and seemed to be mostly ad libbing. Last week, when the Dumpster was in town Moore rented double-decker buses and took the entire audience with him to Dumpster towers for a pop-up protest.

IMG_7717Over the course of the 2 hr show (no intermission), there was plenty of schtick comedy but I found myself laughing loudly, in part as a release from the grim reality of the show’s subject and our worst nightmare. In addition, Moore includes a large dose of interesting and personal anecdotes about his life (e.g., at 18 yrs old, he ran and won a seat on his school board, becoming the youngest elected official in the country).

Nice directing touches by Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening), simple but effective scenic design by David Rockwell, and electrifying lighting by Kevin Adams. You can get good orchestra seats for $42 through TDF or pay just $29 for the balcony (“so we can make sure working people can afford to come.”) It’s a limited engagement through the fall, so don’t procrastinate buying tickets or making your morning phone calls.


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Published on August 19, 2017 at 10:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

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