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Fun While It Lasted

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FUN WHILE IT LASTED, Fillet of Solo Festival, Live Bait Theater. Death, according to monologuist Edward Thomas-Herrera, always trumps irony. It certainly has in his new show. Known for his sardonic, fantastical tours of an imaginary gin-soaked demimonde, Thomas-Herrera here spends an hour talking about his mother's death from cancer and his own fumbling attempts to grieve. Which isn't to say the writer-performer has put his abundant wit on hold. The piece is rich with humor, mostly pointed observations of his family's behavior. At his mother's funeral, his aunt whispers in her Salvadoran accent, "I teenk dey put too much leep-esteek on jour modder," then proceeds to touch a Kleenex to her tongue and dab her sister's lips over and over. He finds the moment "unsettling, repulsive, improper, surreal, grotesque, tender, and hilarious all at once"--an apt description of the whole evening.

The piece is structured as 14 chronological snapshots and an epilogue. And as if to acknowledge the near impossibility of his undertaking, Thomas-Herrera fights through seven different opening paragraphs, each offering a different take on his subject. An unwitting Beckett character, this hyperliterate artist can't get started but must get started. Finally he gives up and gently states, "I loved my mother very much and I miss her terribly. That is the subject of tonight's performance."

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