Cynthia Hopkins’s inner Cordelia and Goneril duke it out in song in The Truth: A Tragedy, her exploitative, riveting, meandering, and extremely odd blend of reclamation and revenge toward a man who done her (sort of) wrong: her dad. Wearing a kind of hula skirt made of neckties and a ratty suitcoat stuffed with props, the edgy troubadour semi-eulogizes John Hopkins—an obstinate, often unhappy schoolteacher who battled Parkinson’s disease and once had his preteen students perform his original musical about suicide.
Video footage that splices together film of John’s dyskinetic jerks with World War II–era mushroom clouds cheapens both events, and Hopkins’s subsequent attempts at replicating her father’s movements (Faye Driscoll did the choreography; DJ Mendel directed) inspire a similarly queasy sensation. More successful are sequences in which John’s deluded ramblings are transmogrified into a sort of demented stand-up routine, complete with canned laughter.
Perhaps the keenest distillation of Hopkins’s feelings toward her father can be found in the outsider-art cornucopia of John’s possessions—drawings, bric-a-brac, letters, medications, and photos—that has all but engulfed the Soho Rep lobby. The typographic Freudian slips that emerge from this artfully installed collection (he signs one letter as “Saddio”) ultimately convey as much pathos as his daughter’s overstuffed collage—minus Ms. Hopkins’s infectious ambivalence.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 25, 2010