Capital Fringe Festival review: ‘Preacherman’
By Fiona Zublin
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
You know the talkers — they show up in pulpits, on ballots, on late-night TV hawking rotisseries and as the stars of one-man shows. You don’t have to be a talker to be a preacher, but it sure helps. That ability to speak for hours without losing an audience’s attention, to make a thousand people feel like you’re speaking to each person individually — is a gift.
Tom Nugent is a talker. Rev. Nuge, as he calls himself, has been a preacher. But since he lost his religion, he’s had to move on to some of the other options, and so he has his one-man show, “Preacherman.” It’s a pretty run-of-the-mill story of enlightenment: Nugent narrates his spiritual journey from being born again to atheist to being what he calls a “prophet of enoughness.” (Caveat: This show will make Bach’s cantata “Ich habe genug,” meaning “I have enough,” run through your head all night.) Nugent finds his answers at (where else?) Burning Man, where everybody gets enlightened, or at least high enough to think he’s seen God. Even though the details are hardly out of the ordinary, Nugent keeps the story engaging with tales of speaking in tongues and preaching to gang members in inner-city Detroit.
“We all have this voice in our head,” he explains, when describing how he thought God was speaking to him. “And for those of you thinking, ‘I don’t have a voice in my head,’ that’s the voice in your head.” He goes a bit overboard when he talks about his cult and encourages you to take a button and tell strangers that Rev. Nuge loves you. But he is a guy you can listen to for an hour, and that’s enough.