Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Mile in My Shoes (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

To share something more than a little humiliating--I was homeless.  Only for a little while, and I generally had friends with whom I could stay.  Found a job before long and managed to end up in a nice furnished room I can afford.  In truth what happened was I tripped and got my feet wet in a puddle.

Others have been treading water in the ocean for years.  We don't like to think about them.  Understandably.  We like to pretend homelessness is a choice.  Or the result of some flaw in character.  Less than three days before I saw A Mile in My Shows, the driver of a Metro bus carrying me to another show was loudly telling everyone how the homeless did this to themselves, they chose this life, they never even try to anything to help themselves.

It is a common idea.

Lots of folks are stupid enough to believe it.

This show consists of one person walking on stage, and we instantly recognize her as homeless.  Kathryn Taylor Smith performs this show which she wrote and Zadia Ife directed.  We meet a woman in old, worn clothes pushing along a cart full of what looks like haphazard junk.  She moves slowly, pretty obviously in pain.  She becomes our guide, and shoes the equivalent of chakras as we go and see what this edge of society is like.  Not all of it, of course.  Think of how many homeless walk the streets each day.  That is how many stories there are.  No, only a fraction.  I suddenly remember for a moment when I lived at Rockaway Beach in NYC back in the 1980s.  Never had known a winter with snow before.  As it thawed out later in the year, the police found a dead body under the boardwalk.  Months earlier, he had simply crawled in there and fallen asleep.  Then died.

Nobody noticed.

Now that is an incident lost in my memory since Reagan was President.  Yet now it bubbled to the surface.  In my view, no coincidence.  Rather design.  And this one woman play, this involuntary journey into humor and horror, hope and heartlessness, designed to do exactly that.  To change me.  To move me into another mind set, another state of being, even.

I've told you all I"m going to about the specific content of this fantastic piece of theatre.  Suffice to say it got under my skin and into my heart.  I believe very strongly the rest of the audience felt the same.  I invite you to share the experience, to walk if not a mile then at least a few yards, in the shoes of those who probably terrify you, lest by osmosis they somehow pass their tragedy into your life.

Here's a hint--that is exactly the opposite of what actually happens.

A Mile in My Shoes plays Sundays at 3pm until December 9, 2018 at the Hudson Backstage Theatre  6539 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood CA 90038.

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