THEATRE REVIEW By
JUST HAPPY TO BE HERE!
The Michael Weller Theatre
311 West 43rd, 6th FL, NYC
The significant of the African American experience is a case taken and
tried in the courthouses of the morally corrupt and the justifiably powerful.
Many have an opinion of how Americans as a whole, let alone people of
color, and how they should respond in times of national tragedy and historical
And so in the play "Just Happy to Be Here!" The issues of patriotism,
delusions, loss and self-awareness in a post 911 world are tackled from
five different points of view. In his first one man show St. Louis Native,
and now Harlem resident, Damien Smith delivers a case study of a case
Smith, a seasoned indie film and stage performer wrote and played all
five characters including the one conducting the experiment on the rest.
As if a shotgun blowing out the back of a person's brain is the force
that Smith executes the performance. Drawing you into the world as well
as the mind of a heroin addicted widower, making the meekest of Lybrals
want to go for his neck as he portrays An ex marine with nothing left
from his tour of Iraq but blind faith in his country and the stubs for
legs to match.
The last two characters are more fined tuned and developed with the agenda
of finishing the point that we as a country, as a people, a community
need not feel embarrassed or some what numb to the social structure that
911 has produced; not only people of color but also all Americans that
were only affected by the terrorist attacks by association of living in
the same geographical location.
Smith clearly slows the pace of the play with the last two personas with
quiet concentration. And when it seems at times that it will slip into
an apologetic windstorm, he grabs you by the throat with unforgivable
balance of words. Bold, brash, naked in honesty, Smith brings his humor
to the piece as to wink at you saying in the same breath it's ok to laugh,
you had better not smirk.
We find not only that Smith is a talent as an actor but also his skill
as a promising playwright is clear.
The approach of each persona is acute, precise, and painful and rings
of uncomfortable truth. And so with Smith gets across that it's okay to
sing and Lament that it is a happy yet trying thing of life to just be