[callout_left]In actor Marmo’s talented hands, Lenny Bruce comes alive, not as a celebrity impersonation, but as a real live flesh-and-blood human being, so much so that one quickly forgets that this is a performance. It’s almost as if the real Lenny were speaking to us from the Theatre 68 stage, making us laugh and making us think.[/callout_left]
WARNING. THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ADULT LANGUAGE.
Directed with imagination and flair by eight-time Daytime Emmy Award winner Bob Guza and featuring a tour de force solo performance by Ronnie Marmo, Theatre 68’s production of Lenny Bruce Is Back (And Boy Is He Pissed) is a fascinating, funny, and insightful look at a man who truly epitomizes the words “ahead of his time.”
Though copyright laws prevent Bobrick and Stein from using Lenny’s actual material, the Lenny we meet at his San Fernando gravesite seems very close to the one we’ve heard about and perhaps seen in his few filmed stage appearances.
As the play’s title indicates, Lenny is as pissed as ever. He’s pissed to be buried in the Valley, and that if he gets “ten fucking visitors a year, I’m lucky.” He’s pissed that his gravestone reads Lenny “Bruce” Schneider, as if anyone has any idea who Lenny Schneider was. He’s pissed that he wasn’t cremated and his ashes scattered in one of the many nightclubs or strip clubs where he performed.
Probably nothing pisses off Lenny more than the fact that he was jailed on an obscenity charge simply for having said “fuck, shit, and cocksucker” — when the only reason he said them was to make a point. Obscenity is not the same as profanity, Lenny reminds us, and if anyone was turned on by hearing the word “motherfucker,” it’s that person who has the problem, and not the one who said it.
What else pisses Lenny off? Dying broke. (They had to take up a collection to bury him.) Having only ten people at his funeral—on a rainy day! Organized religion. (To think that religion is ridiculous is not insanity, Lenny tells us. It’s common sense.) Being persecuted for speech when people were dying in Vietnam.(“What happened to the First Amendment? Weren’t there more dangerous guys out there than me?”) The police.(“Those cops wouldn’t let me make a living.”)Politicians. The list goes on and on.
Lenny Bruce Is Back (And Boy Is He Pissed) fills us in on Lenny’s life: