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Theater Review: “Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll”

“Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll” plays Friday and Saturday at 8 pm at Ion Theatre’s BLKBOX
Photo credit:
Daren Scott

What to do when you’re an aspiring actor who can’t get a part?

Eric Bogosian had that problem in the late ’70s, after landing in New York fresh out of Oberlin, theater degree in hand. He began writing solo performance pieces, performing them wherever he could find an open mike. They became his calling card, and by the end of the “me-first” decade of the ’80s, he’d become famous as a monologuist. 

He wrote “Sex Drugs Rock & Roll” as a swan song to theater, and turned to film and television.

Now ion theatre’s artistic director Claudio Raygoza brings “Sex Drugs Rock & Roll” back, directing and starring in the show through Oct. 28.

Ten fictional male characters offer glimpses into their lives. They vary from drug addicts (current or former) to “The Stud,” a Southerner who brags that he can get any woman he wants (thanks to the prodigious size of his equipment); a viciously cynical businessman juggling three or four phone calls including both wife and mistress; and a recently released prisoner now panhandling to survive.

The final character is a “1984” throwback – a self-described artist who thinks the government wants to persecute him for unapproved thoughts and deeds. So when he has the urge to paint or write something, “I do it in my head, where they can’t see it.”

These are sick, broken, fearful and/or simply crazy people, most either victims of society or the cynical manipulators within it.

Bogosian’s work is a dream for a really versatile and committed actor, but his material treads a fine line between socially important and too depressing for the average theatergoer to contemplate. It requires an extraordinary performer. 

Fortunately, Raygoza is that performer, an actor who inhabits rather than plays his characters and never allows himself to be caught “acting.”

Ion has always given us difficult, challenging or important theater. If you’re up for a showcase of brilliant acting, “Sex Drugs Rock & Roll” is the show for you.

The details

“Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll” plays through October 28, 2017, at Ion Theatre’s BLKBOX, 3704 Sixth Ave., Hillcrest.

“Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll” plays Friday and Saturday at 8 pm

Tickets: (619) 600-5020 or iontheatre.com