An Evening with David Sedaris

Also see recent reviews of Birdie Blue

While reading the writings of David Sedaris can be a wonderful, laugh out loud experience, hearing him read his work is even more delightful. The author of such popular books as Me Talk Pretty One Day, Naked, and Barrel Fever, Sedaris is also a playwright and essayist. His autobiographical adapted play The Santaland Diaries has become a favorite holiday alternative to the more sugarplum sweet traditional offerings of that season (the reading of Santaland Diaries marked Sedaris' debut on NPR's "Morning Edition"), and he has collaborated with sister Amy Sedaris on several theatrical pieces which have been presented at La Mama, Lincoln Center and The Drama Department.

Sedaris' recent one-night stop in Pittsburgh was the launching of a 27-city tour. Sedaris delighted a very devoted and appreciative audience with readings from unpublished work as well as a few pieces recently published in The Newyorker. Yes, he just reads ... but no one can interpret the work of David Sedaris than the author himself. His presentation is an extension of the attitude of his writing, a low-key sardonic delivery which intensifies the ironic nature of so much of his writing. As he is he subject, or at least observer, of his stories, who better to bring them to life?

Presented in Pittsburgh were three totally engaging, humorous, and touching stories, beginning with "Full House," the story of Sedaris as a boy experiencing his first sleepover in the 6th grade. His anxieties, distress, and inventive coping mechanisms are all here - with a heavy dose of melancholy - and presented with humor, but also unguarded emotion. This was the first time Sedaris read this piece in public, and it was interesting to see his him making changes as he went along, and jotting down notes for later presentations.

Also presented were two stories about life with the offbeat Sedaris family, one about his parents and their views about politics and the other a delightful story about the search for a family beach house. Sedaris has a wonderful way of evoking the unique personalities of his family members unapologetically and lovingly - and, of course, with great wit.

During a question and answer period, Sedaris told us his next book would be published in June of 2004. It is greatly anticipated, as is a return visit of Sedaris himself. David Sedaris can be heard frequently on public radio's "This American Life," and on the audio anthology The David Sedaris Box Set, as well as individual audio versions of his books.

An Evening with David Sedaris was presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust at the Byham Theater on April 1, 2003.

See the current Schedule of Pittsburgh Theatre.

-- Ann Miner

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