Fringeworthy

Hip Shot: Bully

Gearbox

Remaining Performances:

Friday, July 19, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 20, 2:45 p.m.

They Say: "Inspired by his sixth-grade journal entries, Lee calls to the ring those who subjected him to unrelenting bullying attacks. It is the fight of his life: finding the will and a way to finally stand up to the bullies."

Lauren's Take: The Worm, The Snake, The Boot, The Ringleader. We know them, we hate them. We may not have had a first hand experience with them, we were probably a bystander, but Lee J. Kaplan had a first hand experience with them and his life was changed for the better.

We enter the theater to witness a sweaty Kaplan getting ready for the performance proper by working out. He explains that sometimes he has a hard time fully engaging in theater because he is constantly thinking about the past and the future. This felt honest to me. It takes a great story and actor to captivate an audience for an hour. Kaplan did the trick.

Some of the best moments in this one-man show come when Kaplan's childhood and adulthood selves interact. These are the moments when he seems to stop performing and get real. I could feel the therapeutic release his words and movements invoked, and as therapeutic as this show was for me, I cannot even imagine what it must have been like for him. The combination of these emotionally intense moments and comedic anecdotes make this show a contender. Kaplan tells some great jokes, salsa dances, and impersonates celebrities and teachers with point, and adds unique voices and behavioral ticks, which make them recognizable but also easy to laugh at. His British teacher and crude, rude, snoody gym teacher set the scene for a very interesting childhood. I wonder what town’s school fostered a staff that could be this unsupportive of a small child.

His vulnerable story is told with confidence as he fights, and learns a lesson from The Worm (who put worms on him), The Snake (who spit on him), The Boot (who kicked him—with steel toes), and The Ringleader (who taunted him with chants and nicknames). These lessons, as they appear on a projection, get a little message-y. Here is where I see this story finding a presence in schools during assemblies. I know quite a lot of bullied kids who would benefit from seeing how strong and brave Kaplan is now.

See it if: You have been bullied, or are a parent or educator.

Skip it if: Sweaty men gross you out.

...