One-man performance strays from convention

By Robert O'Brien
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 18, 1996

If you're in the mood for a surrealist experience before taking off for the break (or slacking about Tucson for that matter) you owe it to yourself to cruise down to that unassuming-looking warehouse at 211 S. Fremont, where the Mat Bevel Institute presents "The Home for Lonely Men" this weekend.

This show definitely is in a class by itself. For the uninitiated, the best allegory I can come up with is a live-action Soul Coughing album, with a multitude of props, all manipulated by the intrepid Mat Bevel himself. The cynical commentary ranges from suburbia to loneliness to boxing, mixed with bad puns throughout. Those expecting a traditional play will be disappointed; the rest of us are free to enjoy the one-man show, with its freedom from theatrical convention. Bevel's world view is expressed through several different characters, ranging from "General Anesthetic" to "Trickster," with costume variations including a motorized toilet plunger atop his gleaming dome! The musical score provided by the Mat Bevel Orchestra adds to the unusual flavor of the performance.

The sole criticism which could be leveled at the show is that it is perhaps a bit too arcane for the general public; a couple seated in the front row was heard to exclaim, "It's the most unusual thing I've ever seen in my life!" I later heard that they were the Institute's landlords, and that they had never attended a performance before.

Fortunately, if they took offense, it will be of little consequence. The Mat Bevel Institute was pleased to announce that it had secured a lease to the former Downtown Performance Center as of March 1, in time for its presentation of "Jet Set Jettison" in May. With this move, greater recognition is certain.

So, be a part of Tucson performance art history - join the visionaries of the "Rational Guard" and catch some surrealistic pop science theater this weekend.