Joseph Price has got a lot of guts—just standing on a stage and being himself while making you a part of his story. Color Theory: An interactive Game/Play is a thoroughly fun and enjoyable hour, and I dare you not to adore Price after it’s over.
I reviewed his one-man show Operating Systems way back in 2013 and was surprised, then, by the manner in which he told a story about a girl he once loved. Through a projector and slides—like a PowerPoint presentation (or something akin to it). A strange medium for one to divulge deep secrets or unleash their inner artist. But, I bought it. And here it is, 2016, and Price’s performance as a master storyteller stayed with me long enough that when I saw his name in the Fringe’s show listings, I, filled with genuine curiosity about what he would project this time, jumped to see Color Theory.
Color Theory is Price’s love note to a fantasy, role-playing trading card game (think Pokémon meets Dungeons & Dragons) called Magic: The Gathering and the younger brother with which he played (constantly) as a teen. It’s also a call for self reflection mixed with some amusing audience interaction.
Price is witty, hyper-aware, and self-deprecating; he’s an honest storyteller who knows how to weave what seem to be disparate pieces of life into one yarn. His solo show is part audience participation, part history, part personal narrative, and part theory. He walks you through the origins and rules of Magic: The Gathering and how the colors on the color-coded cards represent human attributes and emotions. These colors can apply to anyone, for which he gives many examples, allowing our feelings for pop culture icons, such as Rocky Balboa, to collide with our own internal emotional understanding of ourselves.
At the same time, he talks about how he discovered the game in his youth, relaying anecdotes that have you guessing what color would best represent him. This mixed bag of narratives could easily float away from Price, like a million balloons lost and careening into space, but he pulls it together, nearly effortlessly, with help from his favorite instrument.
Price is a PowerPoint presenter extraordinaire who knows how to use and time projections (i.e., emojis, pictures, twitter-like wordplays, etc…) to amplify his often pithy observations or explanations. And, according to my show notes, he’s a “super-nerd” not afraid to embrace the things that make him geek out (like Magic or—I’m guessing here—the projector).
by Joseph Price
Details and tickets
He almost makes it through the whole show before mentioning his perfectly normal love for a certain super-popular HBO fantasy/drama, but he is painfully aware that his affection for Magic places him somewhere between mainstream acceptance and a level of geekdom too taboo to speak of: “There are just some things you are not allowed to love,” he says.
Yet, Magic has given him not just hours of endless fun but also philosophical ponderings about how people are each just a mixing pot of shades from the Magic color pie. For better or worse. Sometimes we are white. Sometimes we are black—a fact Price knows all too well, divulging in the final moments of Color Theory a profound coda to a storied, and much-loved, piece of his youth. He does it without a lot of fanfare, preferring not to belabor the point, and moves quickly from it. So quick you almost forget that there is a moral to Price’s tale.
And there’s the art in what he does: making you laugh so much you almost forget he moved you as a flesh and blood human who, too, has regrets and a couple of black marks on his soul.
Color Theory: An Interactive Game/Play. Written and Performed by Joseph Price. Directed by Amy Couchoud. Lights and Boards by Julia Sienkiewicz. Reviewed by Kelly McCorkendale.