|MICHAEL MOORE: THE TERMS OF MY SURRENDER|
There may be a handful of people in America who have never heard of the provocative, left-leaning documentarian Michael Moore, but I doubt any of them will be sitting in the seats of the Belasco Theatre for the next three months watching Moore’s entertaining, enlightening solo act “The Terms of My Surrender.” Indeed, there probably haven’t been this many Hillary Clinton voters in one room since the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
The evening – smartly directed by Tony winner Michael Mayer – admittedly has a “preaching to the choir” feel; and from the get-go, Moore spells out in no uncertain terms how he feels about our current Commander in Chief and his cronies. But Moore is savvy enough to not simply harangue against the ruling party for the entire intermissionless two-hours, and, instead, wisely uses his platform to remind his audience repeatedly that they are actually “the majority” in this country and can still wield their own power, albeit in small but meaningful ways. (Note: if the show has a guest star, which ours didn’t, it can run even longer I’m told.)
Better still (especially for those of us a tad overdosed on politics), Moore shares a number of personal stories (some more well-known than others) that allow us to see a wider side of his personality, all told (some with unnecessary hesitation) while he’s either standing in front of David Rockwell’s clever Jasper Johns-like flag set (stunningly lit by Kevin Adams) or sitting behind a desk or in a comfy leather chair. Among my favorites are how and why he ran for election to his local school board at age 18; his trip to Germany in 1984 with friend Gary to confront Ronald Reagan at the Bitburg ceremony; and how a local New Jersey librarian and her cronies caused the bigwigs at publisher Harper Collins to change their minds about printing Moore’s first book, “Stupid White Men,” after 9/11. (The book subsequently spent over a year on the New York Times best-seller list!)
Conversely, his recounting of not just death threats but actual attempts to harm him, caused in part by a broadcast by FOX commentator Glenn Beck, is chilling, but the semi-joke that follows struck me in slightly bad taste. And as sad as what has happened in Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan is, repeating this oft-told tale (especially towards the slightly overlong show’s end) felt almost gratuitous.
In fact, my two favorite sections of the show had little to do with Moore at all: a visually hilarious demonstration of some of the 60 or so items no longer permitted by the TSA in your carry-on, and a faux-game show called “Stump the Canadian,” which is set up for even the smartest American audience member to lose to almost any of our neighbors from the north who happen to be present. I could watch both of those segments every night! (Oh, I could watch the final few minutes too, but I’m not telling what happens then!)
Indeed, only the completely humorless (or truly Republican) won’t ultimately surrender to the wit and wisdom of Michael Moore.
By Brian Scott Lipton
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