Wednesday, April 14, 2004


'Part' with painful past

One needs only to hear Martin Moran reflect on his Catholic youth to realize how far we've come from the cheery days of "Nunsense."

In "The Tricky Part," which he wrote and performs under the direction of Seth Barrish, he sits on a stool and, with a decptive, pleasant calm, sumons up his past.

Moran, 44, grew up in Denver and evokes the feel of it reaadily, with its peaks and parishes.

There's the usual comic trivia of a Catholic childhood—the cranky old priests and nuns: a clock featuring a crucified Jesus, whose arms moved to tell the time.

Assigned to answer his parish phone, young Martin is taught to say "Christ the King, can I help you?"

Things change when the 12-year-old Martin and a friend are taken up to a camp run by the archdiocese.

There, a parish assistant named Bob—who isn't a priest, but a Vietnam vet who helped around—crawls into Martin's sleeping bag and violates him, something he'll continue to do for the next three years.

"With this guy I rafted a river, watched a calf being born, cleared a field, conquered a glacier, learned a heifer from a Holstein, a spruce from a cedar," the boy, now grown, says today, in an attempt to mitigate what has happened.

But the dmage has been done. As a teen, he tells us, he twice tried suicide. Years later, he went to visit Bob in a veterans' hospital to make him realize the harm he had wrought.

Onstage, on a chair bside Moran's stool, is a photo of a smiling boy in a kayak, holding up a paddle. The boy was Moran, at 12—the man who took the photo was Bob.

The tale makes its powerful point.