Matthew Trumbull cuts to the chase when he opens the very personal, The Zebra Shirt of Lonely Children, with the words, “When they came for my father…” Immediately, we are brought into his world.
Trumbull’s 60-minute monologue tells the story of his father’s prolonged death, but it also celebrates his life following “critical path,” a saying he was always found of. From Trumbull’s interactions with the funeral director to his first trip to NYC at age 16 to his struggle to write his father’s eulogy, we see poignant glimpses of both Trumbull’s and his father’s life.
The setting – an arm chair and small table with lamp and coffee cup – offers little to distract you from Trumbull’s words, though his ill-fitting suit was a bit of amusement for me. The sleeves left his arms looking long and limp, but seemed to fit with the mood he was trying to convey – a bit of discomfort and a bit of enjoyment.
While a tad overly dramatic at times, the audience followed Trumble’s story pace for pace. Whether he was delivering a powerful line, such as his mother’s final words to his father, or delivering an appropriate joke about Applebee’s, both tears and laughter were well-timed and well-received.
Trumbull’s ability to move into different characters, including voices and facial expressions, gave the audience the feeling that there was more than one character on the small stage. We were able to see the world in which he created for us, despite any physical character descriptions.
The end of Trumbull’s monologue succeeds in leaving the audience with some sort of closure, as just as there is death, there is life. Though Trumbull states, “winter had died and left no replacement,” we know that despite loss, spring will soon follow.
The Zebra Shirt of Lonely Children is part of Fringe NYC’s Encore Series and is playing with limited engagement over the next couple weeks. I recommend seeing before it’s too late.
The Zebra Shirt of Lonely Children
September 23 at 5 p.m., September 26 at 8 p.m., and September 29 at 8 p.m.
15 Vandam Street between 6th Avenue and Varick Street