Author: Jonathan Yukich
Description: The mysterious Mr. Much convinces ordinary Albert that he is a little person, but is he? Join one man’s struggle to distinguish reality from delusion in a world far more outlandish, but only slightly more absurd, than our own.
First Produced: 2007
Date Added: 11/15/2011
Content Advisory: NA
Keywords: Comedy · Satire/Parody · Meta · Politics · Anti-War · Non-traditional/Non-narrative/Experimental/Post-dramatic · Surrealism/Absurdism · Large Cast Size
1 Act, 70 Minutes
3 Females, 3 Males, 1 Gender Neutral
NOTE: American Midget is fully protected by copyright law and is subject to royalty. All inquiries concerning production, publication, reprinting or use of this play in any form should be addressed to Rochelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original Production Information
American Midget was first produced by the MET Theatre in Los Angeles in 2007, with the following cast and credits:
MR. MUCH: Dion Jackson
ALBERT: Tom Walz
GIRL, BONNY BUNNY, POOKY: Parisa Fakhri
MAMA, POOH, PROF. DRIPWORTH: Piper Gunnarson
DRIBBLING JONES, DR. KALAMAZOO, WHAT YOU NEED: Eric Hailey
CHRISTINE: Paige White
VOICE: Derrick Cole
Director: Ben Kusler
Stage Manager: Ashley Minnick
Additional Artwork: Joseph Begnaud
Graphic Design: Sam Morris and and Patrick Abbott
Review by Martin Denton
Jonathan Yukich's play American Midget, making its New York debut at FringeNYC, is an engaging, entertaining, and intelligent work of theater. It benefits from assured, swift direction by Noah Tuleja and the expert acting of its cast of seven. It's certainly indicative of significant talent on the part of its playwright.
The story revolves around Albert, a young man who wants to be a painter, but constantly finds opposition to fulfilling his dream—in the persons of his mother, his psychiatrist, his teacher and, most alarmingly, a fantastical gent named Mr. Much, who pops up unexpectedly to remind Albert that he is a "midget."
Now, Albert is absolutely not a midget—not in terms of height, anyway. But Yukich's conceit seems to be that we all have to face off the forces that try to push us down, keeping us from realizing our full potential. Mr. Much is a fascinating creation; dressed in tails and a top hat, but with brazenly bright red socks, he suggests a devil character. But I took him to be something less specific: he may be whatever people and institutions that we come up against that try to rob us of our initiative and individuality.
The ending surprised me, but I always hope for a path away from ambivalence in a show like this; that's not what Yukich provides, though.
What's not ambivalent is the quality of the work on view. Aaron Bartz is sinister and wickedly charming as Mr. Much, Jared Van Heel is enormously sympathetic and thoughtful as Albert, Maria Giarrizzo is likable as his potential love interest Christine, and Rachel Simpson, Nicol Cole, and Doug Paulson are terrific in a variety of supporting roles. Rounding out the ensemble is the unseen John Bergdahl as "Voice," an omniscient being who might be God but more likely is a stage manager: American Midget plays with the device and artifice of theater as much as it examines and sometimes deconstructs some of the ways that the world works, today and eternally.
All in all, very suitable FringeNYC fare.
reviewed at the 2012 New York International Fringe Festival
Review by Anita Gates, New York Times (2012)
Keep your eyes and ears open for any sign of Mr. Much. Thanks to Trembling Stage’s cheerfully absurdist satire “American Midget,” we know he wears a top hat, tails and bright red socks. And the things he tells you, vicious things meant to destroy your self-esteem, are lies. Read the review
Excerpt from American Midget
MR. MUCH emerges on a dimly lit stage. He is a fit man, appareled with a shiny top hat, white bow tie, knee-high boots and finely pressed trousers. He speaks the stage directions aloud. As he speaks the action, it occurs. MR. MUCH smiles.
Mr. Much emerges on a dimly lit stage. He is a fit man, appareled with a shiny top hat, white bow tie, knee-high boots and finely pressed trousers. He speaks the stage directions aloud. As he speaks the action, it occurs. Mr. Much smiles.
(Per his very words, he smiles. Addressing the audience.)
Faces beaming, eyes ablaze . . . look at you, looking at me. Fine. Dandy. First-rate. Shall we begin?
(An amplified, omnipotent resonance.)
AS HE SPEAKS THE ACTION, IT OCCURS.
A young girl enters, wearing too much makeup. She sucks on a large lollipop. She is whiney and irritating. She addresses Mr. Much.
What do you think you're doing?
Mr. Much ignores the girl.
I said, what do you think you're doing, mister?
The girl grows impatient. Her temper flares.
You can't do that, you know! This is a play! You're not supposed to do the stage notes out loud, stupid!
Did you call me stupid?
If the shoe fits!
The girl beholds her father's suicide.
(Suddenly horrified, as if viewing it firsthand.)
What’s this I see?
It ain’t Shangri-la.
Daddy, don't! I'll be a good girl! I promise!
The scene is graphic and morose. Tongue twitching, eyes goggling.
Oh, my soul's been tainted! Daddy, no! Why! Why!
She throws down the lollipop and exits crying, blaming herself forever.
Oh, daddy, oh! I'll never be the same!
Mr. Much snickers. He picks up the girl's fallen lollipop. The voice, again, for emphasis.
AS HE SPEAKS THE ACTION, IT OCCURS.
Yes, thank you – love it. Mr. Much winks at the audience, stepping forward and handing the lollipop to someone on the front row.
(Hands the lollipop to CHRISTINE, an audience member on the front row. After taking the lollipop, CHRISTINE giggles with an unassuming blush.)
This “someone” takes the lollipop. This “someone” is addressed.
Dictionary. Ringmaster. Definition: “One who is in charge of performances.” That, it would seem, is moi. Charmed, I’m sure. Like everyone else, you shall do my bidding, yes?
(Closer now, delicately intent.)
Sit tight. Look after the lollipop. Treat it well. Place it into your purse. Go on.
(She does with a slightly bemused "when's he gonna stop?" smirk)
There. Tucked away. Safe and snug. Do not suck it, friend.