Autobiography from teenage fandom to adult acceptance
As a singer-songwriter, Sam Shaber was inspired by Duran Duran, and many of the moving episodes in this monologue with songs are related to the greatest hits of the original boy-band. Her description of her excitement as a young girl when she first saw the band, her oddly revelatory moment at one of their gigs, the inspiration to become a musician herself: all of these demonstrate how even bands that haven't aged well still can open up the world for their fans. But Shaber does more than rescue a band from unfashionable limbo: she shares her stories – sometimes tragic, sometimes hopeful – and weaves together her life's journeys into a coherent and satisfying whole.
The simple staging – a woman, her guitar, a slide show – limits the emotional impact of the stories, but Shaber is honest about her experiences and is most moving when she talks of her father and lost friends. Her life has been marked by sadness, but her music seems to act as a resistance, allowing her to celebrate her lost friends and demonstrating her own resilience.
While she moves towards a satisfying conclusion, the episode narrative arc relies on the songs to lend structural coherence. Life, Death and Duran Duran is solid storytelling with some good tunes, and is unapologetic about both its sentimentality and compassion.
Rose Street Theatre, Gilded Balloon, run ended