What other life skills must a responsible young man learn? That really depends on the camp. And the Boy Scouts program is only one window into the firepit of adolescent angst that How To Be A Terrorist seeks to stoke. With a smart, nimble-footed humor, Grzelak braids several narrative threads together into a rather silly, frequently intriguing hour-long monologue.
Humorous memories of his own time in the Scouts (the early part of which coincided, as if often the case, with the coalescing of sexual desire) quickly turn to stories of the flamboyant (and oft-forgotten) foreign exploits of the Boy Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell.
These in turn come interspersed with a series of tweets Grzelak has collected from the Twitter feed of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, currently awaiting trial as one of the young men arrested for the Boston Marathon bombing in April.
How to Be a Terrorist
by Jimmy Grzelak
at Fort Fringe – The Shop
612 L Street NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Details and tickets
The tweets, perhaps unsurprisingly, are mostly the sort of easy, innocuous ramblings about daily life that make up the large majority of Twitter activity– a fact that reminds us of that fundamental sense of curiosity and impressionability that all young people share, regardless of the camp for which they sign up.
If Grzelak doesn’t fully humanize Tsarnaev, or convincingly establish Baden-Powell as a kindred spirit, he does let the chain of stories speak for itself, and he trusts that each of the characters — all frustrated young men — will show through and bounce lightly off each other in poignant ways.
Grzelak remains himself during the show – his falsetto reading from Baden-Powell’s papers creates rather than closes distance between himself and the Scouts founder – and his employment of tweets doesn’t do quite enough to bring Tsarnaev fully into the picture either. But his candor, his dry ad lib during the show, and his enjoyable sense of exploration (he’s a recent graduate from Williams College) helps to set How To Be A Terrorist as a firm stepping stone toward future solo-performance success.
If fully fleshing out a show is like pitching camp, Grzelak’s still learning where everything goes. But he’s got his map and compass, and he knows how to use them. So keep an eye on him – it will certainly be worth following him down the next trail.