Who knew folk music could be so sad? Who knew it could leave you feeling like you’d been both punched in the stomach and embraced in a warm, comforting hug? Apparently Benjamin Scheuer, the writer and star of “The Lion,” did, because that’s exactly what he’s served up.
This 70-minute performance, directed by Sean Daniels, tells the story of Scheuer’s life, focusing on his strained and problematic relationship with his father as well as his own journey as a young adult in New York, striving to survive as an artist. To call it powerful seems trite, as does “impactful.” Performed by Scheuer, who radiates warmth and ease from the stage as he moves from guitar to guitar and song to song, it’s something in between.
Scheuer doesn’t make excuses for his father as he recalls his emotionally violent outbursts. At one point, he recalls asking his friend what he did when his father broke his toys, and how his friend looked at him like he was crazy. Nor does he sugar-coat the changes his family goes through and how his mother and brothers are hurt by them. This unaffected presentation of his story is beautiful in its simplicity, especially when he shares his journey of going through cancer treatments. The atmospheric lighting on the set that resembles a downtown lounge enhances the narrative naturalistically without invoking too much sentiment.
Scheuer’s songs and performance are not one to miss. One hopes we will see more from him, and soon.