For someone who always seems to be in full control -- writing and performing in a one-man-show, fearlessly -- Benjamin Scheuer has quite a story to tell about how he got there. His true tale, titled The Lion, is a rare glimpse into the scary and uncertain world of adolescence and young adulthood, when there's no reassurance that everything will work out for the best. Scheuer perfectly captures the fear and anxiety that took hold of his life, and how he rallied to overcome his adversity and sideline his demons.
Inside of 75 minutes, he covers two decades of his life, from his father's death to his rebellious years to his bout with cancer. If this sounds like a total bummer, consider that the one thing that got Scheuer through it all was his love of music and the connectivity it offered him. Scheuer plays his way through his troubling and turbulent years, and it's as if the stage transports him back to those moments that for him never truly faded. Because he's such a skilled performer, Scheuer speaks mostly through his body language and his facial expressions. It's a concert of emotion.
That doesn't mean the show couldn't be enhanced a bit with one or two faster songs that would lighten the mood at times. Some comic relief appears as asides that Scheuer shares with his audience, but more would be welcomed, too. He resides within a sparse set, full of guitars and memories. His music overpowers the emptiness he feels inside.
However, this show isn't about music therapy and its healing powers. Rather, it's a story of hope that director Sean Daniels clearly and adeptly pulls out from the dust. There's a communal feeling of resilience that shines through the darkness, and you leave on a positive note that Scheuer is doing his best to cope and get by. That's a testament to Scheuer, knowing that his story is best told as part of an active and ongoing pursuit for meaning and serenity. It's better that we leave not questioning whether Scheuer will ever be healed or restored. His music plays louder this way.