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    Notice of Default and Opportunity to Cure

    Are we having funds yet?

    Behind the legalistic title "Notice of Default and Opportunity to Cure" is a sharp-witted meditation on money, art and humanity, a funny but gripping one-man show about the impossible beauty of live theater.


    Besides writer-actor John Clancy, the star of "Notice of Default" is a wad of money that demands your attention like a loaded gun. You want him to put the money away, somewhere safely out of sight where you won't have to worry about it, but he doesn't. This is a show all about money and its strange power over our consciousness, and one of Clancy's many brilliant touches is to keep that cash in your face and dare you to look away.

    Written and performed by: John Clancy.
    Directorial consultant: Nancy Walsh.
    Clancy is not just any actor — he's the artistic director of the Present Company Theatorium, which means it was his problem in January when the theater's landlord instructed the company to come up with $137,000 in 12 days or vacate the "demised" premises. Even though Clancy's career in theater has provided him a skimpy income that you'd think makes him singularly unqualified to discuss the meaning of money, he's turned the subject into a smart, darkly hilarious show with an emotional impact you won't forget.

    How little money does Clancy make by devoting his life to $12-a-ticket theater? He would even be a poor man in Bolivia, he jokes with a gentle Texas lilt. In fact, this raises a baffling question: How do the city's low-budget theaters stay open, never mind put on shows? Let's do the math. Say optimistically that 20 people pay $12 each for a show, and this happens five times a week, four weeks a month. That's $4,800 a month. At this rate, the actors don't make a dime and the theater apparently can't even pay its rent. And yet somehow people who could probably be making a nice income in commercials and voiceovers go on pursuing this impossible dream and the theaters, most of them, go on presenting plays. What allows this to happen cannot be money — it can only be the power of the dream. And the monthly scramble for cash that isn't there.

    Of course, usually that cash is not a sum as unattainable as $137,000, the number staring Clancy in the face. "There's a lot of money out there. I just didn't have any of it," he says. "The question is how to get next to it. Chat it up. Take it home with you." How indeed — fresh from a month's all-out panic about money, Clancy looks at this question from every angle, and asks what price tag we should put on the low-income artist in this high-rent city.

    As little as three months ago, obviously, Clancy had no idea he'd be doing a show like "Notice of Default," but he's hurriedly slammed together an anything-can-happen performance of exceptional skill. The writing is quick-witted and the delivery agile, full of seductive surprises that draw you into the performance, perhaps quite literally. It's a show, a performance, an experience, that will make you believe anew in the impracticable beauty of live local theater.

    APRIL 5, 2000

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