Guest blogger Danielle Marie Georgiou is a dance lecturer at the University of Texas Arlington. She also serves as assistant director of UT Arlington’s Dance Ensemble.
“Who the hell is Blank?”
That is the question that playwright and actor Brian Stanton attempts to answer in BLANK. This one-man show at Dallas Hub Theater grants a voyeuristic view into Stanton’s mission to discover his true identity.
From a young age, Stanton always knew that he was adopted, but never felt out of place until his adoptive mother showed him his birth certificate, complete with his birth mother’s name and a blank space where his name should be. Troubled by this fact, he is thrown into an identity crisis as he tries to reconcile his past with his present and future.
Although material of this sort can border on the melodramatic and become “bland and boring,” as the playwright initially states, BLANK is nothing of the sort. It is a passionate portrayal of one man’s quest to redefine himself. Is he “part victim” or “part monster?” Or is he the boy-next-door whose dashing good looks will get him far in life? The rhetorical quality of the dialogue pulls the audience into Stanton’s existentialist journey and leave them wondering is he Oedipus or Buddha?
Playing more than 10 different characters and asking questions only to get more questions, Stanton learns that as the facts of his birth are revealed, the less he knows about himself. But with the help of Oedipus Rex, a pushy theatre teacher, and his own soothsayer, Stanton realizes that the answers to his identity are only a doorbell away.
Among the many characters that he immaculately portrays, Father Stark, a priest at school who unknowingly sets Stanton on a religious and spiritual journey, Big Grandma, whose one line, “remember your soul,” neatly sums up the moral of the play, and the other “Brian,” Stanton’s consciousness that manifest into the Buddha version of himself, standout.
BLANK is well performed, well written, and neatly structured. He seamlessly transitions between characters, time, and location with the help of simple lighting choices, musical and dance interludes, and recording voice-overs. Stanton’s clever use of language and nod to classical Greek and Eastern theater was unexpected and refreshing. He has a firm grasp on writing comedy and knows how to appropriately use it to make us laugh and cry. He welcomes us on his emotional rollercoaster and we are more than happy to ride it with him till the end.