By Joe Straw
As with other types of cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia is usually caused by brain damage, which generally happens before, during, or shortly after birth. Babies born prematurely and with low birth weight are at a higher risk of developing cerebral palsy. The exact cause is often unknown; however, the condition has been associated with genetic abnormalities; congenital brain malformations; maternal infections or fevers; and/or injury before, during or shortly after birth. There is no cure, and treatment options vary depending on the signs and symptoms present in each person and the severity of the condition, and may include physical, occupational and speech therapy, medication and surgery. – U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Kyle Durack, the Canadian Performer, was born with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy.
Naked Man Rising by Travis Perkins and Chambers Stevens is part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. The show is directed by Travis Perkins and will close Saturday June 29 at the Studio/Stage on 520 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, California.
At first glance, Kyle Durack playing “Long Game” appears to be man who stepped out of a time machine, most notably August 18th, 1969 from a farm in White Lake in Bethel, New York. He is light skinned man and his hair flows beyond his shoulders, wearing no shirt, and a pair of shorts. He has a sunny disposition and smiles like a man who has listened to a great set at Woodstock and is now walking home.
This show caught me a little off guard. I thought the play was about a man, a naturalist, coming to terms with his spastic diplegia cerebral palsy and how he moves through life as an actor.
This show was not about that.
The fascinating moments deal with CP itself. The visual of the scar down Durack’s spine, the curvature of the spine that twists his back slightly from left to right, his left foot that is warped and causes him to limp a “scissored gait” when rambling across the stage. But looking at the strength in his upper body, one would not notice the affliction down his spine and below his waist.
But, that was only a small part of the show.
Being a naturalist, Durack is naked in most of the play. How this really works in the context of the play is anyone’s guess. All right, it does work in the forest scene.
Long Game (Durack) is made fun of all though school because of his CP but something unusual happens in high school when the tough guys accept him as their own. Clint, Arnold, and Tommy Gun, with Long Game, are now known as 4 or Quatro for life.
There are a lot of untouched items in the play by the writers, Stevens and Parker. But just know that “Long Game” is telling a story that is fiction from the very start otherwise the police would show up after the show and make an arrest for self incrimination.
The one-hour show is what it is, taking a serious subject of CP, and creating a story and moving that story into something that is far fetched. There is another story here, and one about the human condition that can make you feel more for the character of Long Game.
But, the play progresses to the extreme without giving a thought about the manner in which humans treat each other, especially after someone has been wronged. Long Game, in the end, comes out looking like a villain. Certainly, someone has to be the hero.
That aside, Kyle Durack has some wonderful moments, especially when he stops and listens, to the noise, the wind, his inner quiet thoughts, and then as he struggles to take the next step forward. And, for me, that was worth the price of admission.