"I've Been Lied to All My Life"

John Paul's Recipe

In the opening moments of John Paul's one-man show, "I've Been Lied To All My Life," it seems clear that the title says it all. We live in an environment where lies - large and small, harmless and devastating - are so engrained in our daily lives that we cease to question, or even pay attention to them. And John Paul is angry about it. Furious in fact. Less a play than a group of set pieces serving as his personal soapbox, "I've Been Lied To All My Life," at times seems like nothing more than a healthy channel for his anger.

"News Media" parodies a national news broadcast, complete with commercial interruptions, a guest editorial and a flag waving anchorman headed for an on air breakdown. Though John Paul brings up a few solid points, the bulk of the act feels like a high school student's vision of The Daily Show, relying on blunt and often juvenile cracks at everything wrong with the Bush administration and the mainstream news. The ranting, raving editorial segment is a thinly veiled excuse to rail on Fox News, Bush and the throngs of other liars who've sparked John Paul's ire, but for all its sound and fury, the monologue never seems to find its stride or get to any substantial point. In the end, "News Media" amounts to nothing more than snide comments and one-liners, a series of sound bites that shy away from delving any deeper into the subject.  

Angry as hell

But as the show progresses, John Paul seems to be striving for something deeper. He's not just angry at the lies and the myriad of problems they've created - he's angry because we can do better. Instead of waving a flag while our civil rights are trampled or following the latest celebrity trial instead of the lives being lost at home and abroad, we can make an immediate and tangible difference if we simply pay attention to the world around us.
 
Donning a wardrobe of rags and dining on garbage, John Paul attempts to express this humanitarian ideal in "Justin Time." A beaten and embittered man, eyes shining with a storyteller's enthusiasm, he recounts the poignant tale of a homeless Vietnam vet and his salvation at the hands of a stranger. John Paul's background as a veteran and recovering alcoholic lends an intimacy and immediacy to his performance that highlights the emotional aspect of the piece.  A meditation on the small acts that can change the course of one's life, "Justin Time" is a simple but moving piece that articulates the theme of the show in a way that John Paul's verbal theatrics cannot.

A vets point of view

Leaving the costumes and sets behind, act three is John Paul's attempt to showcase his talents as a stand-up comedian and tie the show together with a final monologue. He delivers a scathing indictment of blind patriotism, the greed that forces human life to take a back seat to the almighty dollar, hypocrisy and, of course, the mendacity that's run rampant through the last 40 years of news and politics. The routine has its comedic moments, but John Paul is at his best when he drops the pretence of his comedian/preacher role and draws on his personal experience. One of the show's best moments comes when he explains the meaning of each of the Vietnam medals he's wearing, and challenges Bush's "bring 'em on" mentality by pointing out that it's easy to be brave when it's someone else's life and blood on the line.
 
Though lacking the polish and erudition - not to mention the teams of researchers and assistants - of more popular liberals like Jon Stewart or Al Franken, John Paul has a humble mentality and the genuine anger and concern born of first-hand experience with the things he condemns. Despite the heavy handedness and partisanship, "I've Been Lied To All Life" still manages to make several points about politics, media and mendacity that would resonate with any audience. John Paul doesn't pull any punches - at times getting carried away with his accusations and getting off topic, but one can't help but admire the man's conviction. In the end, he makes us think, and perhaps that's what matters most.

                     

Telling you whats really in the news

For showtimes and shows you can contact the Hudson Theater box office at: (323) 960-7744 or visit the website: http://www.hudsontheatre.com 

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