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Review: The one-man show for Angelenos sick of everybody who loves New York

Tom DeTrinis in “Making Friends," holding up his hand while standing in front of a black background.
Tom DeTrinis in “Making Friends,” an IAMA Theatre one-man show streaming on demand.
(Jeff Hammerton)

Tom DeTrinis’ one-man show, “Making Friends,” a digital production by IAMA Theatre, is a coming-out story.

Not about sexuality. A Los Angeles-based actor, writer, director and producer, DeTrinis hasn’t been hiding that he’s gay. But as he admits in this energetic monologue, performed and filmed in the empty Pico Playhouse, he has long concealed a different aspect of his identity: anger.

DeTrinis begins the show in the persona of an obsequiously agreeable guest at a party, braying with self-deprecating laughter and immediately gainsaying every opinion he ventures: “I love Adele! You’re right, I hate her.” He even accepts a piece of cheese, although he later admits with an expletive that he hates cheese.

The Tom we have just met, he goes on to explain, is Party Tom, a guy who will “do anything to make you like me.” Behind this mask, meanwhile, the true Tom is wrestling with the urge to punch you in the [expletive] face.

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Which companies will thrive when the theaters reopen after the pandemic? Those that are independent, flexible and artist-driven.

So what has true Tom so mad? Who hurt him? Those are the topics that DeTrinis addresses in this tirade, directed by his frequent collaborator Drew Droege. (DeTrinis directed Droege’s off-Broadway one-man show, “Happy Birthday Doug,” in February.)

He lists things that bother him: small talk, Rodgers and Hammerstein, mediocre sandwiches, people who take up the whole sidewalk, and, above all, New York. Assisted only by light changes (by Donny Jackson), he takes on the roles of his various tormentors: the middle-aged women who tousled his hair when he was a boy; the school administrator who discouraged him from writing pornographic fan-fiction about his English teacher; a deli employee who put cheese on his sandwich; and above all, everybody who loves New York.

Plenty of Angelenos have either suffered from or enforced (or both) our city’s inferiority complex vis-a-vis New York. So the disdain DeTrinis — a native New Yorker, no less! — professes for the Big Apple and all who yearn to live there has a transgressive, heretical audacity. I myself find it annoying when people go on and on about New York, and DeTrinis is a gifted, fearless, bawdy raconteur in the choleric model; I couldn’t wait for him to tell me why I should hate the place.

He does describe some unpleasant experiences there, but they feel thin, closer to irritations than condemnations of an entire populace: A bartender gave his credit card to another customer. There was a long line at a brunch place. And though I’m always up for a cutting parody, I didn’t recognize DeTrinis’ impression of a New York enthusiast in L.A.: “Let’s, like, put on comfy PJs and watch ‘Selling Sunset’ until our brain atrophies, and then we’ll, like, order some bone broth and get it delivered, and put on that new Jenny Lewis vinyl, yeah, and then just, like, take Benadryl and then, like, bleed out our eyes.”

Finally, several of DeTrinis’ anecdotes about his mistreatment by family members and friends left me with unanswered questions. (Why is he so sure his aunt was lying about not being able to take him to the mall that weekend? Maybe something came up.)

“Making Friends” has promise: DeTrinis is particularly delightful on the roaches he’s roomed with in small apartments over the years — including one he briefly considers as a romantic partner. And he’s an awesome dancer (to choreography by Kathryn Burns). But this probably isn’t the ideal show for an online platform in quarantine. Developing it in front of an audience could have helped to filter and focus the material. I hope DeTrinis gets that opportunity. If he does, I’ll be in the front row.

'Making Friends'

Where: Streaming on demand via IAMA Theatre Company, iamatheatre.com

When: Through Jan. 11

Tickets: $15

Running time: 1 hour, 7 minutes


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