In his one-man show “Myself … and how i Pretend to Live US,” former Lexington resident Peter Suarez reveals fragments of his psyche and personality through a menagerie of five fictitious men who differ in age, ethnicity and race.
Intimate, poignant and humorous characterizations, occasional displays of musical and dance talent and an undeniable knack for foreign accents alone make the show a worthwhile exercise.
But something more chord-striking lies at the heart of Suarez’s performance — especially in light of the divisive fears stirred up by recent tragedies in Charlotte and Tulsa.
Suarez reminds us that contradictory traits not only exist within himself but all of us, poking holes in the fallacy that our differences alienate us from one another. We are, instead, equal when measured by the differences that exist within ourselves.
If I push buttons and satirize anyone, it’s not to alienate but to show we’re more alike than we are different.
“I’m seeking to speak to the human condition,” he says, “and once you’ve seen the show, you’ll see that I’m speaking to the grander ‘US’ in capital letters as suggested in the title, the greater ‘we.’”
Candid and unflinching, Suarez delves into “don’t go there” ideas and language through his characters, but he clarifies that his choices are borne from an authentic expression of his characters’ ideas and bear no insidious intention or need for shock value.
“If I push buttons and satirize anyone, it’s not to alienate but to show we’re more alike than we are different,” Suarez says.
Diversity is at the core of Suarez’s nature as an artist as well as his show. His resume includes eight years with the Metropolitan Opera and dancing flamenco with the Gipsy Kings at Radio City Music Hall. He has served as style coach and adjunct choreographer for Cirque du Soleil and Olympic athletes.
In recent years the 57-year-old performer has split his time between Manhattan and Gulfport, Florida, touring anywhere and everywhere in between. He called Lexington home from 1990 to 1997, when he danced with the Lexington and Louisville ballet companies, and choreographed for the Cincinnati Ballet.
Suarez also juggles bolas, a type of throwing weapon made of weights on the ends of interconnected cords, in addition to swords and fireballs on sticks, at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival.
And as an actor, he’s worked with Tony-winning and -nominated directors Off Broadway. He plays guitar and sings, and even shares a yarn or two at storyteller nights.
I’m seeking to speak to the human condition.
To get a grasp of Suarez’s more subconscious side, meet the characters in his show.
Before the performance even begins, Theo emerges. The stagehand and “half-wit savant” who wears thick-framed glasses and pants hiked up over his belly button has a kind and gentle nature, often wiser than the others. Above all, he loves his wife, Edna. When he speaks of her, he gets choked up and teary-eyed.
Brother Soiree couldn’t be more different. The scarf-swirling, ambiguously gay bon vivant is married to Tori and lives in Seattle. He is, “tres glamorous and a great shopper.”
Then there’s Colin From Galway, not Dublin, a distinction conveyed with salty vehemence. The Irish troubadour wields a guitar and performs the deeply touching “No Right at All,” a farewell Suarez penned to his father before casting his ashes on the Atlantic Ocean.
Travaylin West, a patriotic, Republican country singer and ladies’ man, upholds all the bravado and stereotypes of a red-blooded American man. During the show, Travaylin performs an amusing political protest tune called “Swivel Chair,” which has a chorus that chants, “Spin around.”
Last but not least: the Spanish Guy, a gaucho/flamenco dancer and juggler from Galicia on the northwest coast of Spain, where he claims the first bagpipes were played.
“Flamenco has both the joys and pains of living, like the American blues,” Suarez says in character. “There’s never a moment the audience will not be filled with both.”
Julie Garisto is a Clearwater, Fla.-based writer who has covered Suarez’s work for the Tampa Bay Times.
If you go
What: Performing his one-man show, “Myself … and how i Pretend to Live US”
When: 7:30 p.m. Weds., Thurs.
Where: Downtown Arts Center, 141 E. Main St.
Tickets: $20 general admission, $15 for students and seniors