Open Circle Theater, 429 Boren Ave N, 382-4250. $10. Thurs-Sat at 8 pm. Through Aug 3.
The troubles inherent in semi-autobiographical one-person shows can be boiled down to two words: screaming egotism. A person would have to consider himself pretty dang interesting to believe that a paying audience should sit and listen to him talk (talk, talk) about himself for 90 minutes. And some people are. SOME. Others realize they aren't quite as neat as they thought and start making shit up. This is where the "semi" part of "semi-autobiographical" comes in--where great license is taken and simple real-life events are blown into fairy tales, with others begged, borrowed, or invented. I'm not against it. I go to theater to hear a story, and if it's a good one, do I care if it really happened?
My theory? Jose Amador decided to do a one-man show. Great! But instead of juggling chain saws or belly-dancing or doing dramatic selections from Porky's--ANYTHING!--he tags a big social issue onto his show to justify it. "See, see!" he seems to holler. "I'm not an egotist--I have SERIOUS issues! INTERNAL RACE issues! I'm legitimate!" Jose shakes his head (tsk, tsk) and regales the audience with his (sometimes screaming) views on race and local politics ("Seattle is SO WHITE!"), then backs up his heavy political platform by performing long-winded, melodramatic stock scenarios. Suddenly Jose (who's white/black/ Puerto Rican) is getting manhandled by the fuzz, shot at by gang-bangers in a speeding El Camino, and having white frat boys throw wads of $20 bills at him then run off with his backpack because it's OBVIOUSLY crammed full of drugs and that's EXACTLY how frat boys score their coke--the old "money-toss and purse-snatch" routine. Uh huh.
Jose Amador is an animated, amiable sort of guy. I've seen his performances in the odd fringe show, and he's neither dazzled nor offended me. A one-person show could have been the perfect outlet to showcase his abilities. But basing his show on dead-serious political rhetoric and personal issues, then illustrating them with overblown tales that smack of exaggeration--and sometimes downright phoniness--clearly isn't the best way to do this.