Normaler Than Everyone

It may be because of the stage productions and films which I saw growing up, but my innate and core expectation about musical theatre is that it tends to be on the big size, if not in terms of the number of people on stage, then at least when it comes to the scale of the emotions on display and the lushness of the orchestration. It's therefore pleasantly surprising to experience the one-man variety.

Joseph's lyrics are full of character, wit and the occasional twist.

That said, the emotions which composer/performer Brian Joseph shares are most certainly large scale - anger, grief, frustration and a tinge of disgust at himself. "I am the most ordinary person there is," he insists at the start. Yet the story he tells is both personally intimate and huge, like the life-altering experience of supporting his wife through the successful treatment of a remarkably rare cancer. She survives, and Joseph makes it clear that there's a happy ending. But nevertheless, he feels that the experience has left them with a glimpse of the void, of death, that most of us will never experience.

Joseph is an accomplished guitarist and keyboard player, and his songs touch on a variety of styles - particularly when he opts to tell particular aspects of his life story through the filters of Hollywood film genres such as rom-com, Disney/Pixar fairytale and horror story. Joseph's lyrics are full of character, wit and the occasional twist, not least when he protests too much about being the life and soul of the party, or of being the one who will cope with the situation because he's the one who "will make the soup". He's the care-giver. He's the Dad.

There's a sense that Joseph's turned this period of his life into a show for the same reason he documented his wife's illness and treatment through the lens of his old-school film camera: as a way of processing it all, of coping, of being "in control of the story". Many performers are doing something similar in Edinburgh just now. Some, arguably, will be better actors; none, though, are quite are so honest.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti

★★
Traverse Theatre

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★★★
Traverse Theatre

Pride Plays

★★★★
Multiple Venues

Oor Wullie

★★★★
Oran Mor / Traverse Theatre

Fly Me To The Moon

★★★★
Platform / Traverse Theatre

The Panopticon

★★★★

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

A solo musical featuring multi-instrumentalist and award-winning polymath Brian Joseph. Through his songs, writings and photographs, made while his wife was going through cancer treatment, Joseph presents a funny, moving and altogether original portrait of a cancer caregiver, enraged by soup and terrified by the specter of ghosts. Co-devised and directed by Dani Bedau, Normaler Than Everyone is ultimately a meditation on love and mortality. 'A troubadour in the classic sense, Joseph is an actor, singer and songwriter of the first order' (Oakland Tribune). 'Unpretentious, funny and insightful' (Santa Monica Mirror).

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