At his opening-night performance, TJ Dawe lived every Fringe artist's nightmare: He overshot his alloted time slot, and his show was ended by the technician before he had finished his monologue.
A strange slip-up for a veteran performer known for his polished and well-crafted autobiographical shows. Perhaps he lost track of time simply because he was engrossed in his own tale of turning to shamens and a psychotropic drug to discover the reason behind a deeply troubling and intense personal problem he has struggled with most of his life.
I know I was engrossed. This is not kid stuff. The nature of Dawe's problem is sexual in nature (at least on the surface). But where Dawe excels is in making his passionate performance about more than drugs or therapy or sex. It's about struggle, the struggle to understand oneself, the struggle to face pain, the struggle to seek truth.
It's compelling stuff, mixed with factoids about how mammals bond with their parents through the act of touching. Dawe's clever asides are present, too, and relieve some of the tension of his experience with the shamens. As usual, the side stories gain in importance as he expertly builds his tale toward its climax.
Dawe has become more introspective over the years, and this show felt like a finale of sorts, a breakthrough, a revelation that will let him move forward with a lighter heart. Even without hearing the end of "Medicine," I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.
60 minutes, Yellow Venue, $11, Orlando Fringe Festival official page.