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Sorry for Your Loss

Theatre Review by James Wilson - May 8, 2023

Michael Cruz Kayne
Photo by Jeremy Daniel
"You think things are one way, but they can be another way." This reversal of expectations is a recurring theme throughout Michael Cruz Kayne's Sorry for Your Loss, the new one-person show presented by Audible at the Minetta Lane Theatre. The performance begins with a stand-up routine and then morphs into something more theatrical. And don't let the title fool you: The monologue may be built around death and grief, but it is also very funny.

When Kayne, who wrote and stars in the show, introduces his family, he shows a photo of his wife Carrie and two children, Truman and Willa. He quickly qualifies his familial identification by stating that he's "not exactly" telling the truth. He also has another son, Fisher, who is Truman's identical twin brother. Fisher, Kayne explains, "died when he was 34 days old and that's what this show is about."

Kayne proceeds to describe in harrowing details the circumstances around Fisher's death, and the debilitating grief that followed and which continues to linger. Yet, he points out the moments of absurdity and the elements of dark humor along the way, particularly in an experience with the all too eager to please administrators of the funeral home. (Aaron Rhyne designed the clever and helpful projections that back up Kayne's humorous claims throughout.) There also is a joke about an infant's onesie that is very amusing, but it received a few "too-soon?" gasps among the audience.

Additionally, there are clever tangents in the form of classroom whiteboard lectures to prove his adage about the pitfalls of thinking things are just one way. Drolly, Kayne points to math, linguistics, and quantum physics for evidence.

As a raconteur, Kayne is completely winning. The structure and execution are reminiscent of Mike Birbiglia, who has a similar style of circling around the main story and weaving through narrative diversions to link personal anecdotes with commonly shared experiences. If Kayne doesn't yet have the trenchant wit and slyly offhand delivery of Birbiglia, I still look forward to his monologues in the future.

Josh Sharp directs, and while the focus is on the storytelling and engagement with the audience, there is a good deal of theatricality, especially in the last several minutes of the show. Aided by Brett Banakis's simple set design and Cha See's dazzling lighting, the production offers a moving and comforting vision of the departed among us.

Over the past few years, Audible has produced some excellent works, and they have become an invaluable part of the Off-Broadway landscape. Although they specialize in presenting plays that will appeal primarily to listeners of audiobooks and podcasts, as Sorry for Your Loss demonstrates, their shows are well worth seeing. As Kayne reminds us, we mustn't rely on preconceived notions.

Sorry for Your Loss
Through June 4, 2023
Audible Theater
Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane, New York NY
Tickets online and current performance schedule: