Orlando Fringe Review: Spitting in the Face of the Devil
Bob Brader begins his harrowing autobiographical show Spitting in the Face of the Devil by reciting the obituary of his father, an ex-Marine armored car guard from Allentown; then he tells you that he didn’t shed a tear over his dad’s death, and used to cheer himself up by rereading the death notice. By the end of his 80-minute monologue, you won’t only understand his apparent lack of filial feeling, but applaud his restraint in not dancing a jig on the coffin.
Brader’s journey through a sadistic suburban hellscape of physical abuse, pederasty and prostitution is bracing, to say the least. That he escapes in the end with any measure of forgiveness for the devil that sired him, or control over the devil spawned inside himself, is a miracle. Even so, he somehow leavens the horror with an unexpected heaping of humor. Director/developer Suzanne Bachner smartly keeps Brader seated for much of the running time, resisting the temptation to diffuse the depravity through extraneous movement while keeping the audience’s focus fixed on Bob’s brave soul-baring.
Confessionals about unhappy childhoods are a dime a dozen at Fringe, but Brader’s never devolves into 12-step sentimentality or self-congratulatory platitudes, remaining gripping and grounded until the end. A portion of the production’s proceeds is being donated to Little Warriors, a Canadian anti-child-abuse charity. But you don’t need that as an excuse to buy a ticket to this intensely disturbing — yet ultimately enlightening — work.