Stephen Kearin’s “Inside Out”, the one man autobiographical show about the middle aged ginger’s tough Irish childhood growing up in Mission Viejo, in Southern California, spellbinds. So, Kearin introduces himself by saying “I came out smoking my baby cigarette”, proudly establishing himself as his mother’s son, her only son, the third and last child. He as the baby boy delights at characterizing his family traits or those of others treated as such. His older sisters in their Catholic uniforms riding the bus to Catholic school; The battered model who turned out to be a real Playboy playmate; His toughest uncle, Frank, like Frankenstein appearing at their door on a dark and stormy night. His sister told him “Don’t make me look bad”. The show plays only two more nights this run, Friday and Saturday.
Kearan describes his family’s move to a comically ascetic house in the suburb of Mission Viejo in southern California, in contrast to Kearan’s fiery, brawling parents. That life doesn’t last long. Even so, it’s a long way from the childhood of Kearin’s Irish father who worked in the mines. He at six years of age gets lowered into a hole by a rope, carrying explosives. The kid’s a survivor, we come to learn. The monologue moves along with style and spunk and it’s worth seeing twice. It’s much more a family portrait than about the 60s or 70s. Kearin says the show differs widely night to night as it’s an oral history and not scripted. That’s the improv quality, the spontaneity and chemistry with the audience. The stories have come from anecdotes he has told friends and family throughout his life and finally compiled. Here goes nothing, he says. Compassion for one’s family would be the universal message.
Suddenly on Saturday night Kearen looked straight into the small house at a back row and tells a man there to fucking stop checking your email, you have been doing it for some time. The man was probably texting. One has never been more grateful at having left the cell phone at home as there is a special place in Hell for those people. It’s particularly a shame in a medium that depends on the chemistry between the performers and the audience for the quality of the experience, for example the annual Valentine extravaganza “How We First Met” with artists riffing on the real love stories of real couples on stage.
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Kearin, from his tousled ginger locks to the twinkle in his eye, by his gift of gab to the fine tuning of his speech, phrases each revelation and observation with perfection. He draws out the story with wry observation, step by step, taking a dramatic pause with each puff of an imaginary Lucky Strike. He’s tough enough to tell the story, pausing and puffing to punctuate each pointed sentence, chain smoking defiantly in tribute to his dearly departed red haired, green eyed mother, a life long smoker.
Kearin delights in the heroics large and small, noting his father made a specific number of parachute jumps in World War II into occupied France to liberate a small town north of Paris, then looked for work at night. Moving into the 60s he describes his parents’ idolization of the Kennedys. Later, after talking of how his father comes to marry his mother’s sister, Kearin says some of his sister/cousins and brother/cousins came to the show opening night. He’s at the Southside Theater at Fort Mason, although the show is closed to children under sixteen. He relates the stories without judgement.
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Kearin gets into the ending sequence of the story, with the deaths of his parents, having essentially skipped his own marriage except for a precious few words about evolving romantic status, perfectly downplayed in the narrative like deliberate afterthoughts. He never mentions having children of his own even though he has worked on many Disney animation films and a new television show.
For ticket information, click here. ‘Inside Out’ runs this Friday and Saturday only, February 27 and 28, 8:00 p.m.. Tickets cost $40 at the door if available, $35 in advance on line. The Southside Theater at Fort Mason is kitty corner from the marina Safeway. It is not the same as the Bayfront Theater of BATS, it’s in a parallel building on the third floor, Building D. No cafe but bottled water complimentary. An easy to walk to from the end of the bus line of the 22 Fillmore. Buses running down Van Ness Avenue come close, with a short walk. The parking lot includes bike racks. Fort Mason is bikeable from Embarcadero BART. The show runs only two weekends, February 20 & 21; February 27 & 28, each show at eight p.m..
For more information: Stephen Kearin solo at Southside Theater; Event Details