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From Busk Till Dawn: The Life of an NYC Street Performer

nytheatre.com review by Mary Beth Smith
August 14, 2012

From Busk Till Dawn: The Life of an NYC Street Performer offers audience members a rare glimpse inside the head of one of the iconic Times Square figures, Robot Guy. Tim Intravia invites us into the world of street performers as he narrates his story by talking to a trash can affectionately named Troy. He takes us on a ride that includes unruly tourists, run-ins with cops, other Times Square staples such as The Naked Cowboy and Elmo, and his desire to be with "lotion lady" who works at the lotion store near his daily spot. He details the trivial questions that people ask about his life as a human robot, including questions about food, the bathroom, and the extent of his silver paint, all the while using self-deprecating humor to tell his story.

Intravia's real life portrayal of what he deals with daily as a silver statue is informative if not expected. While there are a couple of bizarre moments such as his silent breakup with a mime, most of his stories generalize his dealings with tourists and locals alike on a daily basis. Intravia gives us a broad glimpse into his life as robot as opposed to specific anecdotes, which causes this show to feel more stream-of-consciousness and out of control than anything else. A major problem comes from his choice to tell his story to an inanimate object that does not exist for the audience. His conversations are one-sided (as trash cans don't talk), but he responds often as if Troy the Trash Can has asked him a question or made a statement, thus alienating the audience to an even greater degree. Furthermore there are times when it is unclear if he is talking to himself, another person on the street, the audience directly, or the trash can, subsequently leaving the audience, at times, slightly confused.

While the story needs some clarification, there is real potential with this play. This is the real life experience of a NYC street performer and there are moments that are truly moving and get to the heart of what it's like to be an artist in New York City, whether it's on the street or in a theater or in a gallery. Intravia captures the fears of mediocrity, self-doubt, and need for professional recognition that plagues everyone in the business. He is able to do this both as a robot and as a regular guy (sans makeup) just trying to pay his rent. Intravia may need to work on developing his story further, but once he does it will be well worth the hard work.