Photo of Martin Moran's "All the Rage" by Joan Marcus
After Martin Moran's one-man show and memoir, The Tricky Party, which explained how a camp counselor who seduced and molested him when he was 12, some didn't feel he was angry enough. In that book and play, audiences and friends commented that they were surprised that Moran didn't "blame" his molestor enough. As he explains in All the Rage: it's as if “I were being called out for missing an essential piece — for skipping on, or being frightened of, anger.” But is that an emotion—unadulterated anger—that gay men can't feel or aren't allowed to feel or is it just something Moran hasn't tried to discover for himself despite decades of therapy? Well, he decided to go on a personal journey—both physically and emotionally—to find out.
"The trip to Sout Africa ended up being seminal," Moran explained to us in a recent interview. "I ended up visiting the Cradle of Human Kind, this heritage site in Africa, where more than 40 percent of human ancestor fossils have been uncovered, where humans first mastered fire. I experienced a pivotal moment there, and it became the central metaphor for the piece: how the ancient super continent fractured and then are slowly drifting back together."
As Ben Brantley explained in his review in the New York Times: "There’s something profoundly touching in the show’s greater ambition, in Mr. Moran’s desire to connect his introspective travels with the larger world. Because he has a novelist’s command of the evocative detail, there are times when a precisely rendered moment seems to open a window onto a hauntingly expansive view."
Moran is aware that people can be hyper critical of one-man shows that focus on a single person's experiences, and he readily admits that he feels "embarrassed" about it as well. "I’m not crazy about one-person shows," Moran says. "There comes a point where the singular endeavor to answer a question, in a very personal way, actually has the capability to find an answer. But I don’t think I could do this if I... essentially it’s not me. It’s this question, and it’s just trying to come through. I don’t wnat to showcase my talents; it becomes this kind of imperative: there's something knocking that wants to come through and I have to find out what it is."
Ultimately, Moran is on a personal mission to find anger, which is something that many gay men may relate to: an inability to express rage. I wondered if I was avoiding anger, if it’s an entire piece of being a human being I had avoided or missed so far. Am I coward or wimp? What is righteous anger?" he says. "Have I been a weak little gay boy who forgave the guy? I felt like, 'Moran where is your testesterone?' I felt unmanned by the question, embarrassed: Where the fuck is it? I wanted to know what the proper place of anger is in one's life."
All the Rage continues through Feb. 24 Peter Jay Sharp Theater, 416 W. 42nd St., Manhattan, (212) 279-4200, ticketcentral.com