Reviewed by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
Sometimes what’s billed as a comedy turns out to be a slightly different experience. There are lots of laughs in Hal Cantor’s, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ANXIOUS, a coming-of-middle-age comedy about finally exploring and facing one’s true sexuality late, and other things anxiety-producing. I laughed a lot, actually. I got all the gags, the innuendos and the silliness. It’s genuinely down to earth. And, a hell of a tell-all. Cantor practically inverts inside-to-out in a glorious, self-effacing expose of himself.
The show is as complex as Cantor is as a person. Accordingly, as a diagnosed anxious person, not only was the material painful to write, it was even more difficult to get to in the first place. Many years of procrastination were involved in its making. The living of it, mostly. And this is what makes this production singularly unique.
It’s not just a “when life gives you lemons you make lemonade” solo show that you typically sit through with most performers on the Fringe circuit. This one has impact. And it’s also because of his age that it does. This season we are seeing quite a few middle aged to senior performers on the stage telling stories that are often relegated to youngsters who want to tell us about their childhood and teen years spent on a therapist’s couch, trying to forgive a parent, sibling or bully for a messed up state of being.
But Cantor’s isn’t that at all. It’s a life he designed. Through the lens of his anxiety, he makes a lot of very conscious choices well into and throughout his later adulthood. He takes a deliberate journey which on the surface seems comical, but in actuality is truly courageous. And not despite his anxiety. But by using it as a tool of excavation.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ANXIOUS is not merely sentimental. It’s instructive. And although the actual language of the script might be shocking at times, there’s nothing better than experiencing a person fully committed to his own truth. If I had anything else to critique, which I kind of don’t, it would be, “Hey Hal, just please don’t stand directly in front of your screen when you’re featuring a clip.” And, by the way, “I remember, Roy.”
*Featuring adult content. Not recommended for children.
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