A Wonderful Play About the Complicated Lives of Fathers and Sons

Ace, a delightful one-man performance running through November 5th at the Marjorie S. Deane Theater, is a richly sweet memory play of a day, and days, long passed and a young man’s struggle to define himself.

I must give a disclaimer, I am an unabashed fan, and friend, of the author and star of this play. That said, I can’t stress how much I think Ace will speak to anyone who has a sort of loving struggle that so many fathers and sons share.

When I hear the phrase “one-man show,” I must confess to a flood of automatic thoughts, most of them negative. I love the idea of a single person performing all the parts (think Whoopi in her long-ago Broadway tour de force) and showing many sides as they switch back and forth and back. But the execution is typically quite different. I have sat through my share of one-man performances and realize that like a one-man band, a one-man show is usually an brief novelty that I soon want to escape.

However, that is not the case with Ace. Greenberg, an experienced hand of single-man performance, maintains a controlled manic pace as he takes us through one of the most complicated days of his life. While it is about the author, his father — who nicknamed himself the play’s title — looms large in the story and in the author’s life as well. I won’t give more details about this surprising story; instead here are a few impressions I walked away with.

  • The show does a wonderful job of showing how we can get in our own way, even when we desperately want the pending reward. Hearing the narrator’s explanations for why, after so many years, he still had not completed the final paper he needs to graduate Harvard, rang oh so true. I see it in myself, my friends and my clients — we struggle so to get what we want and most of the time we are the largest obstruction.
  • It amazes me how some of the things we say to children stick with them long after they are said. Moments in Ace drove that home, and impressed upon me what a responsibility we have when we take on the hardest job I know, being a parent. Most people are so young when they have children and I find that many times words that made a great impact on their child are ironically forgotten by the parent not long after they were uttered.
  • And lastly, a theme I have not personally experienced, but have seen in select clients, is the struggle of growing up in a great man’s shadow. Greenberg’s father was a legend in New York’s financial world, serving as the CEO and later chairman of the board of Bear Sterns. Creating one’s own identity, in the shadow of this sort of complicated and gifted man, had to have been overwhelming.

If the the topic of fathers and sons speaks to you, I suggest you hurry and see Ace while it’s still here. I don’t think you will regret it.