Thursday , July 25 2024
Author Stefhen Bryan's performance piece chronicling his triumphs over childhood abuse and sexual addiction comes off more opportunistic than inspirational.

Theater Review (LA): ‘Doodu Boy’ by Stefhen Bryan

This theatrical confessional, written and performed by Stefhen Bryan and based on his memoir, Black Passenger Yellow Cabs: A Memoir of Exile and Excess in Japan, tells the story of the author’s humble beginnings in Jamaica, his difficult dealings with his parents and his struggles with sexual addiction.

Bryan portrays all the characters in this 95-minute memory piece, and it’s a tribute to his skill as a performer that the audience remained engaged and amused throughout this rather tawdry tale. A quote in the press materials pronounces it a “powerful testament to the human spirit,” but it really seems like the story of a guy who got lucky – in both senses of the term.

Doodu Boy2Raised in the slums of Kingston, he suffers the beatings of his religious fanatic mother until he can finally escape to Yonkers to live with his father, who doesn’t really want him around.

When his mother reveals that he’s a child of rape, he begins to understand why his parents behave the way they do, and it also sends him into a spiral of sexual compulsion. He ends up teaching English in Japan, where he is able to indulge his passion for Asian women, and he does. It’s difficult to admire a man who wanted to kill his father for raping his mother, only to go on to take advantage of countless women himself.

Bryan certainly seems to have survived with an exceptionally positive self-image. He boasts about his numerous conquests, mothers and daughters alike. He describes being treated for an STD by a Japanese doctor who marvels at his endowment. And he graphically details the heroic effort needed to take the virginity of the woman who eventually became his wife. This is a confessional without repentance.

There was much laughter from the audience during his discussion of these exploits, but I found it all rather uncomfortable. His references to and impersonations of the Asian people are pretty racist, although he considers himself a cultural insider after having spent so much time there (and marrying a Japanese woman).

After the performance, Bryan brought his wife to the stage as he promoted his book, and it all began to feel too much like a pitch. Doodu Boy plays Sundays at 6 p.m. through February 23 at the Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th Street, Santa Monica. Reservations can be made by calling (800) 838-3006 or online.

About Kurt Gardner

Writer, critic and inbound marketing expert whose passion for odd culture knows no bounds.

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One comment

  1. I couldn’t disagree more, and Bryan seemed to conquer his insecurity by stripping of a mask of confidence to find he could look in the mirror and know the true man could come to terms with his own demons and his self worth. A grand triumph.