Saturday, September 19, 2015

Theatre of Self Doubt at Elgin Fringe Festival

Combining action, speech and recorded narrative, Stephen Gomez effectively played multiple roles in his one-man show "Drawn Dead" this weekend at Elgin Fringe Festival.

The plot begins as Gomez walks off a monotonous office job to reassess the direction of his life. Turning to his family's Las Vegas roots, he takes up high-stakes poker, then walks away from it again, multiple times on a journey that crisscrosses the Pacific Northwest.

Steven Gomez performs at the 2015 Elgin Fringe Festival.
Photo by Scales Off Media.
At times, all the drama is happening only in his mind, whose thought process is broadcasted as a play-by-play commentary heard over the P.A. Competing voices—including his own spoken monologues—tug him in different directions in a kind of bipolar cycle of blind confidence and crushing self-doubt.

From scene to scene, the words of a tournament poker author reappear as mantras, fueling his drive toward the next big gamble: "The cards you're dealt are immaterial" and "You fold, you learn nothing."

Elements of pantomime, acting and audiobooks enhance a compelling, original story which proves that the better your ability to read your opponent's bluff, the more you will doubt yourself. In the end, Gomez questions even the validity of that lesson in a dramatic fistfight with his own conscience.

"Theatre of Self-Doubt" is alternately coarse and surprisingly subtle, thematically well-developed, and like seven-card stud, much more complex than meets the eye.

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