Theater archives

Wild Man


“What the hell is wildness, and how do we get there?” muses Matthew Maguire, introducing his new solo performance—an autobiographical meditation on decades of risk-taking and adventure. But what’s wilder than a one-man show strung together from embellished life stories and tepid aphorisms? Pretty much everything.

Cataloging the quirky components of his self-anointed renegade persona, Maguire traipses through a free-associative jumble of true tales: from pleasuring a boa constrictor (yes, literally), to smuggling watermelon into a high-security prison, to fielding playwriting tips from Andy Warhol. He gesticulates with gusto, straining to impart visions of kitschy strip clubs and unruly altar-boy days.

Maguire would make an excellent dinner companion—many of his tales are bursting with incongruity and blustery humor. But theatrically, they disappoint. Most anecdotes prove less outrageous than advertised: a so-called car-theft career is more like a pair of teenage pranks. Maguire also takes on subjects unjustified by his experience—it’s jarring when he compares a youthful fistfight to the horrors of war (“As a single raindrop is to a hurricane,” he murmurs). Watery platitudes can’t tie his ramblings together: “Is the heart a wilderness?” he inquires, apropos of very little.

Nothing’s wilder, Maguire concludes, than reminiscing onstage. If only the results weren’t so tame.