2016 Capital Fringe Review: ’12 Steps’

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It’s the end of the world as we know it, and Richard Sautter feels fine – well, fine enough to express his internal afflictions with addiction on a miniscule stage. At the Argonaut Tavern, bar hoppers, and theatregoers alike ,can experience the self-reflecting tale of a man struggling to survive as an addict, an acting addict – yep, you read that right. Seemingly impossible, Sautter – sole artistic mind behind 12 Steps – manages to compare the tactical ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ approach toward sobriety, with his individually created, coping mechanisms when handling an obsession for performance – believe me, it totally works.

12-steps

More often than not, I find direct, presentational theatre to be predictable, mundane – breaking the fourth wall has its perks during elementary moments of surprise – however, Sautter’s combative ‘TED Talks’ approach when delivering his autobiographical piece to the Argonaut’s amber ale-drinking onlookers, effectively sends all the right messages.

A humorous opening delivery of, “My name is Rich, and I am an actor,” guardedly introduces the small, but welcoming audience into a narrow performance space – our hero stands alone on a three-inch-tall platform in the Argonaut’s second floor bar. The rumbles of passing trucks can be heard from the adjacent H Street bustle. A recording of Smokey Robinson’s pipes, along with the laughter accompanying the hungry customers below, bounce sharply into Sautter’s performance territory, yet all environmental distractions are soon averted as our epiphanized friend commands a humorous hour-long monologue.

Mature audiences will not only enjoy wielding their own power over the expressionistic personality of our leading man – they’ll come to appreciate Sautter’s silly 20th century, pop culture references – whether you ‘get’ them or not – as they coercively introduce a once preposterous idea, into a truthful comparison between getting a buzz from booze, and feeling buzzed from ‘boos’ – applause is recommended, and duly earned in 12 Steps.

“My name is Rich, and I am an actor.”

Running Time: 50 minutes, with no intermission.

12 Steps plays through July 17, 2016 at The Argonaut – 1433 H Street NE – in Washington, D.C. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.

LINK:
Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page.

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Benjamin Dennis
Native to southern Pennsylvania, Ben Dennis is a writer, actor, singer and drama critic, all the while studying at Penn State University. Featured in The Record Herald, Shippensburg News-Chronicle, and Centre Daily Times, Ben’s theatrical pieces have received rave reviews from theatre-folk and new audiences alike. The 2014 Totem Pole Award Winner for “Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role”, Ben has taken an abundant passion for performance art in new directions, frequently seen as a theatre reviewer and commentator of summer-stock, collegiate-level and professional productions. Additionally, he believes in the power of up and coming talent in youth environments, advocating for arts education new theatrical interests.