The Tricky Part

by William Stevenson

Martin Moran's autobiographical one-man show begins as a recollection of his Catholic grade-school education in Colorado. He tells gently amusing anecdotes about attending Christ the King church and school, but the rather mundane stories don't contain much that we haven't heard about Catholic schools before. It's only when Moran gets to his central story that The Tricky Part becomes affecting.

Moran, a 44-year-old actor who has appeared in numerous Broadway and off-Broadway musicals, sits on a stool as he recalls his childhood. At the other side of the bare stage is a photograph taken of him when he was 12 that is also featured on the show's program and poster. Flashing a winning smile, the boy stands in a kayak wearing a life preserver and holding a paddle over his head. At first the photo simply shows Moran as a happy child. But the innocence of the picture has added impact by the final moments of the show.

In The Tricky Part, Moran reveals himself to be a victim of abuse--his abuser being a church assistant and camp counselor named Bob Kominsky, who started his own boys' camp on a mountain ranch. Marty's friend George convinces him to come along one weekend, and--as soon as he finds someone to cover his paper route and altar-boy duties, Marty jumps at the chance. After bonding over nature and star gazing, Bob seduces him the first chance he gets. Moran is so honest in his account, however, that he concedes that he let the abuse happen even though his friend was sleeping nearby. "I allowed," he remembers. "It was as though he was touching me into being and I was dying to find out who I was."

The Tricky Part is the true tale of a survivor who has finally come to terms with his childhood abuse. Some will say that it's therapy in the form of a one-man show. Perhaps it is. But it's also a powerful, truthful account of what it's like to be molested as a child and how hard it is to overcome abuse. Deeply personal and exceedingly honest, Moran's theatrical confession steadily builds from its unassuming beginning to an emotionally charged ending.

Seth Barrish directed the 80-minute play, which was developed at the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab and workshopped at the Barrow Group (where Barrish is co-artistic director). Paul Steinberg designed the simple, beige set, and Heather Carson designed the lighting, which shifts effectively a few times during the play.

Due to its subject matter, The Tricky Part offers a theatrical catharsis--for the audience as well as Moran. Kleenex is available after the play, and many in the audience will need some.

The Tricky Part
By Martin Moran
Directed by Seth Barrish
McGinn/Cazale Theatre