I Saw Tina Dupuy's Soul

Jesus Saves Tina Dupuy?

"The Cult and the Cyclops," AKA Tina Dupuy's life story, directed by Jay Leggett is an emotional standup performance. Tina exposes her heart, her life and her art. Art imitates life quite literally in this case. Tina's story will make you laugh, it might make you cry, it will move and inspire you.

You come to learn that Tina Dupuy was born into a Christian cult, became an heavy drinker by age 12 and spent her teenage years in the juvenile justice system. Tina Dupuy's life story is sometimes gruesome, sometimes sad, but over-all uplifting. It's a tale of a girl stacked against all odds, who eventually perseveres her early life struggles to find hope and happiness. Sound cliché? Well it is, but it's all true. It's all Tina Dupuy.

The director, Jay Leggett was a writer and actor for FOX TV's groundbreaking sketch show in the 90's, In Living Color, and has appeared in dozens of network television series including ER, NYPD Blue, Ally McBeal, Comic Relief, and the Drew Carrey Show. Jay writes that after a casual conversation with Tina Dupuy one night, he immediately became 'hooked' on this 'amazing' true life story. He decided that Tina must write and perform this story live for all to see. Jay Leggett says, "I hope her story stays with you and sticks to your soul."

Tina's "Life Props"

So does it stick? Maybe more so than not. A few factors help this performance. One, the performance was held at The Eclectic Company Theater, a small, intimate venue in North Hollywood which provided for a very upfront and personal account of "The Cult and the Cyclops." Two, the use of music and songs, in this case primarily hard-rock such as Iron Maiden and Faith No More, helped identify with time periods, characters, environments and emotions. Three, Tina Dupuy acts within her range. Although she must play herself, she must also act out other characters and figureheads throughout her life. Any attempt at overacting would make these characters unbelievable and we would be less likely to identify with them. She lets you enjoy the other characters which enhances the story. Fourth, Tina's life truly is an amazing testament to the fact that hard work and love can overcome all adversity. Anyone can benefit from seeing and hearing that. I also commend Tina in using very few props: a cordless telephone, a chair, a metal tray, and a bible are all that is necessary for Tina to recount her life. Not sparse or low budget, but accurate, precise and brutally honest.

As mentioned, Tina Dupuy is typically a comic, so I ask, "Is this performance supposed to be funny?" "Is this supposed to be a standup routine or a play?" "Is it a drama or a comedy?" After reflecting, some of these questions are unanswered and this creates confusion in the project. I'd say it's autobiographical dark comedy monologue with a moral twist. So what is that? Something unique in itself, a hybrid art form and that's part of the confusion. For example, it's funny, but not really. I mean it is funny, but it's sad and it seems that Tina needs to get a laugh every 10 minutes or she gets nervous. Other times the humor is genuinely funny. It bordered being a standup routine instead of a play and I wonder if that was intentional.

Tina Dupuy's looks deeply at her life

"The Cult and the Cyclops" is naked, honest and exposed for the audience to see. The awkwardness this exposure creates makes you wonder whether Tina's performance is for her own personal release or for the audience's enjoyment. When I asked Tina whether this project was painful or helpful she said, "it is definitely both." I guess that's kind of how I feel about it too. Fortunately it offers insight to life and personal growth with a genuine, heart wrenching mix of truth, pain and humor. I can't wait for the sequel, good luck Tina.

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