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San Francisco by Richard Connema

Mike Albo Gives an Over the Top
Solo Performance in Spray

SprayMike Albo, New York's "pop culture prophet," is winding up his successful one man performance at the Theatre Rhinoceros. This talented 32 year monologist raves and rants about our hyper-commercial, overdesigned and overmarketed lives. Thoughout the 73-minute performance, he gives a speedy mix of bombastic words reflecting the commercialization of the American citizen. He dances, he gives clever vignettes and he moves about the stage like Giselle.

Mike Albo comes out on the bare stage and immediately mimics a litany of advertising slogans at machine gun speed. He starts out by saying "Thank You, Thank You, Thank You," using the various intonations you have heard representatives of service agencies use when delivering the line. This string of invocations runs from what waiters say when giving you the specials to the kids behind the Starbucks counter to what the airline flight attendants say while in flight and so on. All of this is at breakneck speed. It is an amazing opening.

Mike gives an outrageous and surreal monologue on "his wartime affair with General Norman Schwarzkopf" that is almost subversive. He says that James Baker introduced them when Mike was visiting an art gallery. Needless to say, this is wicked satire. Slides of General Schwarzkopf are projected on the screen to show how he relates the "romance." This bit ends in a frantic semi-military dance that Mike says was inspired by his love of the general.

Mike's best bits are his effeminate gay personality called "The Underminer." This character appears three times during the evening and is a hilarious takeoff of a patronizing and arrogant queen talking to his "good friend." It is almost like Vera Charles talking to her best friend Mame.

There is a good sequence about American foreign policy today and how the government is coming up with a Disneyland-style park called "Bush Gardens European Experience," where the theme park celebrates an "Operation Euro-Cleanse" for our citizens here in the good old U.S.A. There is even a section called "Freedom Park" where you can get great "freedom fries" and fresh baguettes.

Albo playing the resourceful special aide to Jennifer Lopez, getting a press conference lined up for her scheduled appearance, is brilliant. He does this while juggling calls from Jennifer and a PR rep for Ben Affleck. There is a less humorous scene in which Mike becomes the "Secretary of Celebrity Defense" and rattles off names of what your favorite celebrities are doing in the relationship departments. Yes, he even drags up that old bit about "Is Tom Cruise gay?"

"Entrapment" is more scary than comedic, in which Mike must memorize every number code such as social security, bank account, drivers license, medical card, and even the bar code on the supplies purchased at the local super market. It is a social commentary on what we as individuals must live with in today's world.

The fast and furious solo art piece ends with a "Wet Dance" that involves a metal bathtub - the choreography is pure fun. Mike is also a very talented dancer. Director Anna Catherine Rutledge keeps the action moving at a fast pace and the monologues by Mike Albo and Virginia Heffernan are cutting for today's audience.

Spray ran thru February 7 at the Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th Street, San Francisco. For tickets call 415-861-5079 or visit www.therhino.org.


Cheers - and be sure to Check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area


- Richard Connema



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