Lay of the Land
nytheatre.com review by Brad Lee Thomason
December 1, 2010
When I walked into Performance Space 122, I got the hint right away that what I was about to see might be a politically motivated piece by an artist with an agenda. I'm not sure what got me first: perhaps the California and United States flags both hanging along a rope diagonally across the stage; or maybe it was the map of America in the background without the states named. This makes for a fun game for audience members before the show starts; can you look at the states and name all of them? Even the really small ones like Rhode Island or the sparsely populated ones like New Mexico? Or Alaska, which wasn't on the map but gets its own special section towards the end of the play. I hope the Hawaiians don't hear about this.
I did. And so, apparently, did Timothy Miller.
Let me tell you this, since I'm not qualified to get into a debate about politics, law, and (certainly!) not religion: Timothy is a true American patriot. While he demonizes George W. Bush and other Republicans he makes a good case for doing so. He points to the United States Constitution as his reference, which, if you are a United States citizen, you should have already read. Timothy had his copy on him; I have one at home but I didn't think I'd need it. If you want to read it though, here 'tis: http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html
I kind of want to compare Timothy to Paul Revere; everybody hears his cry, and I hope everybody heeds his warning, and maybe the sleepy town of Lexington will stand up and fight against homophobia.
When I said "play" earlier, I hope I didn't mislead you. This is a one-man piece of performance art that will only run until December 11th at P.S. 122. Timothy takes us through the story of his life—his childhood, and his relationship with his father—in a very candid and amusing way. He also incorporates quite a bit of audio-visual to support him, and all of it is very well thought out and produced. The sun may not shine everywhere all the time (he makes multiple references to the phrase "where the sun don't shine"), but it certainly shines here. Timothy Miller is passionate, energetic, and hilarious. At times it seemed like he was stage-managing the show from the stage... "Red lights work here" or "Oh, this is a transition" or "This song calls for a light cue." These moments were especially funny.
Not that I believed any of that. This show was too well-crafted and too well-executed for me to have believed it. Nor did I believe Timothy coming in with a flashlight telling us that the show wasn't ready to start. However, once he got on stage it didn't matter. He is far too entertaining for me to have focused on anything else. This boy knows our country, and has been all over it, and knows exactly what the gay marriage laws are in every state. The piece becomes very autobiographical as he makes a desperate plea to let him and his foreign lover stay in the country, as the only way to do this would be for them to marry. At one point Timothy threatens to burn the California state flag as well as the U.S. one; but everybody knew (including him) he wasn't going to do it. Yes, Timothy, 52 percent of California voted for Proposition 8, but if you burn that flag you're going to lose part of the 48 percent against it.
Although, Prop 8 supporters say: "It protects our children from being taught in public schools that 'same-sex marriage' is as legitimate as marriage between two people of opposite genders."
I hear you, Timothy. Loud and clear; and I'm going to do everything I can to help.