For youngish folks, like the captivating, thirtysomething writer/solo performer Dan Hoyle, an unwired lifestyle can be inconceivable.
Hoyle challenges that notion in his latest show at The Marsh, “Each and Every Thing,” developed with monologist Charlie Varon, who directs, and Maureen Towey.
In it, Hoyle traces his own lengthy journey to craft a life of true communication and personal meaning.
Balancing narrative storytelling with re-enactments of scenes from that journey — which encompasses a series of on-the-street interviews – he plays all the roles with grace and ease, including himself from post-college-age onward.
Others include two African-American drug dealers on the streets of Chicago; a violent Aryan Brotherhood ex-con in the Midwest; a Puerto Rican from the Bronx (who laments, “Everyone is ‘connected’ but we’re not really connected”); Indian men smoking and bantering in a popular coffee house in Calcutta; and, especially hilariously, the facilitator and some of the participants (male and female) in a “digital detox” retreat, and his own father (the illustrious comic performer Geoff Hoyle), who instructed him, as a kid, to read the front-page news, not just the sports scores.
Woven throughout are Hoyle’s ongoing conversations with his best friend, a droll and sharp-eyed Indian grad student, who gives him advice on creating theater pieces exactly like this one, which offer a Hoyle’s-eye view of real people in today’s slightly unreal world.
Along the way, Hoyle plays guitar, sings and at one point raps.
He admits it sounds like a cliché to say he found spirituality in India, but talking about nothing and everything in the noisy coffee house did seem to him like a revelation, during which he found not only the “open time” he sought (when every moment becomes an event) but also the “basic Dan” he was looking for, the Dan that he is when he’s interacting with people in an old-school, analog reality.
Some of Hoyle’s epiphanies may seem self-evident to those of us who are—well, much older.
But it’s truly magical to watch the gifted Hoyle, under Varon’s astute direction, inhabit the various characters; even his facial features seem to morph. He’s following the Anna Deavere Smith model in that regard, but giving it a personal warmth and humor and empathy that’s entirely, and gratifyingly, his own.
Each and Every Thing
Where: Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays; 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; closes Aug. 24
Tickets: $25 to $50