Performance art covers a multitude of sins, from catharsis to polemic to exhibitionism and back again. Now we have to add a new subcategory to the genre: infomercial for a book launch. Sure, the hard sell for the softcover and the discounted-book signing don't come until after the curtain call of this one-hour piece. But Tim Miller has taken its content from his nonfiction book of the same name, and therein lies the central problem.
Miller is a glib, at times graceful storyteller. His title comes from the 25 to 30 hotel beds he figures he sleeps in per year, and expects to for the rest of his life, which he finds "a scary statistic." Yet, as a self-described "queer itinerant performance artist," it's a necessity, and he concludes that all of "our lives are forged in beds," even though "we lie down in each other's dandruff and DNA." To underline this point -- effectively -- the set is a single mattress on an art gallery floor. Beds are "the stages for our lives," he says, and they're lit with ghost lights.
Mostly standing atop the mattress, Miller delivers four set pieces adapted from his book: about his first hotel bed in Hollywood, his favorite hotel bed in Cincinnati, the hotel in London where he connected with his partner of 14 years, and the cot in a holding cell in Los Angeles after a gay rights demonstration. The latter, a climactic scene in the most literal sense, also provides Miller with a platform for his longtime causes: the right of gays to marry and the right of a non-American partner (as his is) to remain in this country.
But Miller often seems to be reading what he's written rather than relating in conversation to the audience. To compensate, he indulges in too much moving into the audience, too much arm waving, and too breathless a vocal delivery. A director could have dealt more effectively with this disconnect, but none is credited. Nor in a 12-page program is anyone but Miller cited as having any creative role in the piece. I can understand no set or costume designer, but were those really ghost lights?
Presented by and at Performance Space 122,
150 First Ave., NYC.
March 8-18. Thu.-Sun., 8:30 p.m.
(212) 352-3101 or www.theatermania.com.