This is the time of year when many people take a moment to contemplate the things in life for which they are thankful. It may be a difficult thing for many people to do right now, what with the surplus of hate and fear that has heretofore barely been kept at bay now rearing its many ugly heads. The world seems a little darker than it was only a few weeks ago. That’s why here and now I’m thankful for Gideon Irving. His ever-evolving show, My Name is Gideon: I’m Probably Going to Die Eventually (now in its ninth version of the same first show) is a balm for what ails the psyche. There is magic in his work, and I don’t just mean the playing cards.
We are lucky to have people like Gideon, artists with big, wide-open hearts who can offer a respite from the dull ache of everyday life. He speaks sweetly and appears almost shy as he encourages his audience to follow him into a place warmed with fairy lights, folk songs, fresh-baked cookies, and surprises to delight and astonish. The feeling he exudes is one joyful whimsy, and the small dashes of Dadaist (non)sensibilities sprinkled liberally throughout surprise and delight. Just walking into the theater is an experience.
Nearly every square inch of the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater has been covered in mementos and props culled from Gideon’s life and previous performances. This is quite an achievement in stage design, especially considering that the stage was doubled in depth just for this show. it’s a treat for the eyes and as full of surprises as the performance itself. The attention to detail is remarkable.
Coming to his show is, as he said he hopes, like coming into his home. Gideon welcomes everyone on the stage afterward for a chat and to take a closer look at what he has going on, though I can’t really tell you much of what’s there because it would ruin the surprise. But know there are literally hundreds of interesting things to see and a handful of lovely projects you can sign up to be a part of.
As a performer, Gideon is unassuming but obviously insanely creative. He and his production team have created a lovely, intricate, wholly safe space for people to come and experience something different and quietly wonderful. He’s a talented songwriter, too, and his music is the kind that uplifts and helps you forget what you left behind on the outside. It was a breath of fresh air, a respite from the sadness and anger that some of us are feeling now like a constant ringing in the ears.
For two hours, and more if you come early to check out the décor and stay afterward to talk, there is a chance for peace and calm. He’s also subtly brilliant at inspiration and motivation. Take, for instance, how he talks about his next planned project, for which he’s only just working out the details. It seems like an extraordinary goal, but he breaks it down in a way that makes it seem like just a matter of preparation and taking the first step.
There isn’t much I can say to describe what happens in the show—again, even if it wasn’t requested I wouldn’t tell you for fear of ruining the surprise—but I can say that it was something I will remember for a long time to come. Take a chance on this unknown. You won’t regret it.
Photos by Maria Baranova
My Name Is Gideon: I’m Probably Going To Die, Eventually
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
224 Waverly Place
Limited run through December 11, 2016
Tuesdays – Saturday’s at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday’s at 3 p.m., exceptions are December 3rd and 10th at 7 p.m. Dark nights are November 30 and December 7.
Tickets can be purchased by visiting Ovation Tix or calling (866) 811- 4111.