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"The Zebra Shirt of Lonely Children" at The New York International Fringe Festival

“The Zebra Shirt of Lonely Children”
Written and Performed by Matthew Trumbull
Directed by Matthew Freeman
Reviewed by David Roberts, Chief Critic
Theatre Reviews Limited

It would be easiest to see Matthew Trumbull’s “The Zebra Shirt of Lonely Children” as a grieving son’s tribute to his father’s memory although the writer-performer dispels that thought early in this solo play that is currently running at The Steve and Marie Sgouros Theatre as part of The New York International Fringe Festival. It might be easy to see the play as a condemnation of callous practices of some funeral homes and anatomy bequest programs. But that would be a rather shallow assessment of Trumbull’s deeply thoughtful play.

More difficult, but certainly more on target, would be to understand “The Zebra Shirt of Lonely Children” as a testimony to the enormity of death and the power it has over us as we attempt to fight it, embrace it, deny it, or re-define it as “a better place” as though death were a concerned travel agent.

Matthew Trumbull’s tribute to the bigness of death is much like Job’s tirade as he addressed God looking for universal answers to questions like, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” In Job’s situation, God admonishes him to stop whining and accept his fallible and finite humanness. There are no reasonable explanations for why things happen the way they shouldn’t. Things happen.

It isn’t Matthew’s job to worry where he stands in relation to his father’s commendable stature as a person and a structural engineer. Nor is it his responsibility to understand why trench-coated university students coming to transport his father’s body are so shallow and uncaring.

In the precise and polished performance of his profound script, Mr. Trumbull finds an answer to Job’s questions that is similar to the response Job gets from the creator of the universe: “Death feels larger than existence to me, in the way that the sky is larger than the ground on which you stand. The infinite versus the finite. Many more years will happen after I die than ever happened while I lived, or ever came before I was born.”

So what is humanity’s response to this awareness of our finitude and fallibility? Perhaps facing death’s persistent and unrelenting enormity, we can and must – as did Jonathan Trumbull – determine “Critical Path.” We can and must determine what is essential in this journey and in that discovery comes meaning and hope.

There is a reason Matthew Trumbull gave his meaningful script the title it has. But this critic hopes you will see this play to discover that reason. It does have something to do with the “Minnewashta Explorers,” sipping accidently poured mugs of coffee before they get cold and go to waste, and accepting our “uneven lives” as beautiful.


Presented by Theater Accident in Association with Blue Coyote Theater Group and The New York International Fringe Festival. Written and performed by Matthew Trumbull. Directed by Matthew Freeman. Lighting designed by Kyle Ancowitz.

WITH: Matthew Trumbull.

All performances take place at The Steve and Marie Sgouros Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street (West 3rd and Bleecker) in New York, NY. Tickets are available at or 866-468-7619. $15 in advance, $18 at the door. Senior and Fringe Junior tickets available at the door for $10. Running time: 1 hour with no intermission.

Remaining Show Dates
Friday, August 17th @ 6:45 pm
Sunday, August 19th @ Noon
Wednesday, August 22nd @ 5:00 pm
Friday, August 24th @ 4:15 pm
0 Comments | Add Comment | Permalink | Posted by David Roberts on Thursday, August 16, 2012