Wake Up and Smell The Coffee, is a collection of monologues from actor and playwright Eric Bogosian that stream together into a one man show that examines a variety of topics from family to religion to the frustration of societal inequity and the devastation that comes with the realization there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s a play that makes you think.
In the interest of transparency, I must admit two things: I have some acting experience, and I know Frank Zagottis, the consummate performer in this adaptation. First, from an acting perspective, to tackle an eighty to ninety minute monologue is insane. In a normal play, an actor is part of an ensemble, sharing dialogue and blocking. In “Wake Up” it’s Frank and only Frank. Second, I know Frank can sing – I’ve seen him, he teaches film, he’s an all-around good guy. What I didn’t know was that he can act. My yardstick for measuring a performance is when an actor is subsumed by a role. When you watch Tom Hanks play Forest Gump, you’re not thinking “oh, that’s Tom Hanks playing Forest Gump”. When you see Stanley Tucci preen as Caesar Flickerman in Hunger Games, you’re witnessing a wholly new entity in the form of a character. Watching “Wake Up and Smell The Coffee”, I lost Frank. I forgot I knew Frank. He disappeared in plain sight.
This one-man performance is a must-see and begs the question, what will he do next and how long will we have to wait for it.