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The Siegel Column: To Tell the Truth

By Barbara & Scott Siegel
April 16, 2004

Among the large crop of actors who have lately been writing and performing solo shows, Martin Moran is the only one whose work conjures up thoughts of the late, great Spalding Gray. The connection is that both of these storytellers appear to digress only to pull the strands of their stories together in the most elegant and subtle of ways.

Moran is a boyish and appealing actor whose winsome charm pulls us into the tale he tells in The Tricky Part. He begins with funny stories of growing up Catholic but he's cleverly laying the groundwork for something serious as he draws us into his innocent childhood world. The events that shaped his life are slowly and poignantly revealed during the course of the performance.

The sexual abuse of a child by an adult is the subject of The Tricky Part, but Moran tells the story with such clear-eyed honesty that he lets no one off the hook -- least of all himself, the victim. As the situation is presented here, the villain isn't entirely evil and the young boy isn't entirely unwilling. Taking us deep into the heart of darkness but providing the bright light of art along the way, The Tricky Part is beautifully written and exquisitely performed. It's also the least flashy one-person show of the season in that, rather than shifting chameleonlike between dozens of different characters, Moran plays no one other than himself. The only flash here is the flash of truth.