posted by Rob McMahon
It has always seemed to me that the measure of a good story teller is his ability to captivate the audience. Well, count me captivated. In spite of the personal parallels, and the attempted flights of my mind into the recesses of memory, I could not let my thoughts wander for more than a few seconds for fear of missing any piece of Dartnell engaging tale.
Delivered on a bare stage save for a chair, and with minimal props (a few books and a pen), Dartnell transports you to the sides of freeways, the insides of peoples’ cars, and the dinner tables of strangers. Painted entirely with gestures and postures, facial expression and voice tones, he carries us with him through his misadventures in northern France trying his darndest to get laid.
Dartnell becomes the characters he meets along the way, remains himself at age 19, and still has room to editorialize as his present self with 20/20 hindsight. In so doing he illuminates that elusive search for a thing so desperately wanted, so fantastical in nature, and so laiden with hope, that in the moment it can be nothing but a frustration and a disappointment.
“Travels with my Virginity” is an everyman’s Odyssey. It’s moments are full of tension and fear, desperation and humor; they are pregnant with the giddy excitement of possibility. At times Dartnell is selfish and mean, at others, unbareablly polite. He is whatever the situation demands him to be in service of his end. And for all his struggles that end still elludes him, elludes him until life deems fit and it occurs without any effort whatsoever. And when it does it prooves that it is just one of many things that we monumentalize, something on which we hang the mantle of cure-all, hoping beyond hope that it’s attainment will finally make us whole, comfortable, and well forever.
“Travels” is a beautifully crafted, well told tale that bursts at the seams with humanity, and Dartnell is an enratpuring personality. I would, however, be remiss if I failed to give due credit to the lightning designer, Colin Grenfell, for so effectively conveying mood and location through light. Dartnell is masterfully aided by Grenfell’s work. Also of great service to the piece is the soundtrack provided by Dartnell’s classic rock icons (some of mine as well. Oh, Jim, when will you come and save us?)
If you have ever been young and in pursuit of anything, “Travels with my Virginity” is a must see. Playing again tonight in the Winningstad at 7:30 for the last time in town, make sure you get there early to claim your seat.