Oh God – The Drums (second review)

OH-GOD-THE-DRUMS-Brad-Hart-KEY-imagePlaywright: Brad Hart
Director: Evalyn Parry
Cast: Brad Hart

Review by: Anne Bokma

Brad Hart’s one-man show, winner of the Hamilton Fringe 2013 Best New Play Contest, is the tale of a love affair with a 160-pound set of drums— from first adolescent crush to the sustaining power of compaionship 25 years later.

Under the direction of Evalyn Parry, Hart offers up a beautifully written monologue delivered with equal parts self effacement and self awareness. There’s lots of humour here—especially when he takes us back to the awkwardness and insecurity of high school where, eager to make his musical mark, he joins the school band, only to be relegated to playing the cymbals and the triangle. He misses his big cue on the cymbals, drops the triangle and suffers the hot-faced humilitation of looking like a dork in front of the girl he has a crush on, a tough Pat-Benetar lookalike.

There’s plenty of pathos, too. He’s still haunted by the ghost of Barry, a rock god whose drum playing leaves Hart slack-jawed but whose star potential is wasted on the school administrator who considers him a loser. There’s also a disquieting rippling throughout the play around his relationship with his father, whom he credits with buying him his first drum kit, but then clarifies the seemingly generous gesture as “kindess counterfeiting as absent love.” In a story about his father’s reaction to a missing pair of rubber boots, Hart ratchets up the emotional intensity with painstaking pacing until we are confronted with the emotional brutality some parents are capable of inflicting on their young. In the process, we gain insight into why Hart has spent so much of his life beating on the drums, releasing the pain of his past by creating art in the present.

You don’t have to be a drummer or understand anything about drumming to love this play. About the only drummer I could name with any confidence before seeing this show was Ringo Starr. And now, of course, there’s Brad Hart.

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