BOTTOM LINE: A solo show that’s anything but solo.
Diana Oh is Going Rogue: a Solo Show is clearly a one-person show, right? After all, the title not only states that Diana Oh, the talented writer, performer, and singer-songwriter at the center of the piece, is “going rogue,” but also that she’s performing a “solo show.” Further, the show is being presented as part of the terraNOVA collective’s 10th annual soloNOVA Arts Festival, a self-described “one-person show festival.” Yes, there’s no doubt about it -- this must be a one-person show. Yet, this was exactly the question I kept asking myself throughout Diana Oh is Going Rogue: a Solo Show, and it's also a question at the heart of the show itself.
As the audience enters the intimate IRT theatre, music is blaring and two enthusiastic party people, Sarah Goosman and Kyle Metzger, invite us to a dance party on the stage where D.J. Huggy Bear sits spinning tunes and the party people run around painting hearts on the audience’s faces. When Ms. Oh finally appears from the back of the house, singing the first of several original songs, it is clear that the audience/performer relationship is reversed.
So, also, is this show's relationship to the "solo" genre. The party-people sing and dance back up, deliver instruments, perform one-liners, and cue the audience. A chill guitarist named Paul Corning, Jr. joins Ms. Oh for several songs, informally interacting with her each time. The audience is encouraged to participate at several times throughout the show, either clapping along or reading lines handed to them or held up in front of them. Even the director, Leta Tremblay, has a line or two. So, is this a one-person show?
Similar to an episode of MTV Unplugged, Diana Oh is Going Rogue is very conversational, though I'm not sure whether this was due to the laid-back-style or the fact that the audience may have contained mostly personal acquaintances (many of whom Ms. Oh referred to by name or career). The show revolves around Ms. Oh's relationships, a song accompanying and exploring each one, and the accompanying story explaining why the song was written. An upstage board helps us keep track of each lover and each song; at times we're also quizzed to ensure we're paying attention. This journey through a slew of failed relationships leads, understandably, to self-discoveries as well.
"Becoming the best version of myself is to bring the best out of others," says Ms. Oh, and perhaps this is the reason her one-person show involves so many other performers, musicians, and collaborators (there are at least four I haven’t mentioned in this review). Is it a one-person show by the standard definition? Probably not. But Diana Oh isn’t interested in playing by anyone else’s rules, and there’s no doubt that she’s definitely going rogue.
(Diana Oh is Going Rogue: a Solo Show at the IRT Theater, 154 Christopher St. buzzer 3B, New York, NY 10014. Presented by the terraNOVA collective as part of the 10th Annual soloNOVA Arts Festival, May 22 through June 11, 2013. Tickets are $20. Purchase tickets at the door or online at terranovacollective.org.)