‘D.C. Trash’: Ron Litman’s treasure at Capital Fringe Festival
By Nelson Pressley
Friday, July 13, 2012
The bliss you feel at the end of Ron Litman’s “D.C. Trash” is his triumph, and not just the kind of sentimental uplift of watching an actor in his early 60s who’s been hauling garbage lately but still has it in him to make a 75-minute solo show. “D.C. Trash,” at Capital Fringe Festival, is Litman’s story, but it’s also the city’s: He knows firsthand how race and gentrification work here, and his performance smartly toggles between his low-key persona and a high-energy, high-risk street-theater style.
The wiry Litman’s voice is gruffly authentic, streetwise without pretension, and though his rapport with the audience is straightforward and easy, he’s capable of great characterization. The only white guy working in the trash yard, Litman breaks down the Latino and black demographics confidently, and he slips persuasively into the voice and demeanor of a complicated black colleague.
He also makes edgy comedy of his parents’ high-octane bickering behind the counter of the old Luros deli on Wisconsin Avenue, and he gradually constructs a cardboard city of the neighborhoods he once knew around town. The reminiscences are barbed from the beginning, with Litman arising out of a pile of detritus as a homeless man and segueing into a knockoff of the disco hit “It’s Raining Men.” In Litman’s world, the song becomes “It’s Raining Bums.”
Keyboardist Tom Pile provides sound effects and musical accompaniment as Litman bursts into parody choruses of “War (What is it good for?),” changing “war” to “trash” as he works his theme. The musical eruptions are sheer Brechtian commentary, and that’s what you love about the show — not only his compelling story (everyone has a story), but his aggressive theatrics. He dresses up as Michaele Salahi, then takes an even bigger gamble and pulls it off.
This is the most lovable thing about Fringe: It makes places for people such as Litman, who know what to do with the chance.