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Theatre Review: A Different Kind Of Cool

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jack Gallagher's appeal stems from his ability to be funny, and at the same time lead you into a serious situation that he's lived through.

Take this monologue. It opens with a difficult memory involving his son Liam, whose odd behavior at school has triggered concern among the teachers.

"Yeah, there's some issues. He doesn't like loud noises at all, covers his ears a lot. And he's not real great at conversation or socializing, you know he doesn't make friends very easily. Just like his father, Jean Ellen says. And it's true. I'm not a very social person. People find that hard to believe because of all of this. But if you think about it, I'm in control here. I know what's going to be said, when it's going to be said, and you just sit there and listen. (Laughter) That's pretty cool."

The segue is seamless and sincere. Gallagher gets you laughing, but he's still on track with his story -- you never lose sight of his concern as a parent.

Gallagher goes on to describe his son's increasing  problems.  He looks away when people talk to him. He falls behind on his homework, even with a tutor. Finally Gallagher learns his son is autistic. That puts the father center stage, alone, posing questions to himself, and the audience.

"What did I do? Is this my fault? Did I pay enough attention to him? Did I pay too much attention to him? What did I do wrong? Who do we talk to? What do we do now?"

Autism is not a diagnosis every family faces. But Gallagher makes his story feel universal. And yet he doesn't burden the audience with more than they really want to know. He treads this theatrical tightrope with skill, humor and honesty, making for a tightly integrated, personal and yet very entertaining show.
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