Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp



Spoleto Highlight – This is What Happens Next

Posted 6/4/2010 1:40:00 PM
I’m waiting for This is What Happens Next to, well, happen when a man in a jacket and cap cradling a Starbucks cup in his hand bursts into the theater from one of the emergency exit doors. It is Daniel MacIvor, actor and playwright of the one-man show we are about to see.

“Sorry!” he says in his decidedly Canadian accent. “Sorry I’m late! I’m always late…” He begins talking and won’t stop again for 80 minutes in this fast-paced verbal race through addiction, divorce, the power and danger of the will, John Denver and he demons in his own life.

MacIvor is an exceptional Canadian playwright who is best known for his gripping one-man shows. As he explains in This is What Happens Next, a few years ago he very publicly announced that he would not be doing any more one-man shows. He was going to try to settle down and have a “real life.” But as he says in the play, real life “didn’t work out.”

Spoleto audiences are definitely the beneficiaries of real life’s failure. This is What Happens Next is one of the best one-man shows I’ve seen in years. While the show is undeniably autobiographical (one of the character’s names is “Me,”) it is in no way self-indulgent. In fact, MacIvor seems reluctant to share the brutal details of his past few years but is compelled to by the need to create and to tell a good story.

“All I really want is your smiles,” he tells us early in the play and as such, promises a happy ending. But even as he says the words – “happy ending” – there’s something about the subtle shift towards menace in he lighting and the far-away, crushing sound that seems to get closer and closer that makes us think that that happy ending might be just out of reach.

MacIvor’s imagination and skill as a playwright are definitely part of what makes this successful theater, but what really holds you in rapt attention moment to moment is his amazing virtuosic acting turn. Playing several different characters from different walks of life, he not only truly embodies each one but also manages to convey complete spontaneity in every role. Although he has performed this play hundreds of times by now, it’s impossible not to feel that you are hearing him say each word for the first time.

As we are walking out of the theater, I hear a woman ask an usher, “That beginning part…with the Starbucks? Was that real, or was that part of the show?” I don’t stop to hear the answer. The fact that 80 minutes later the audience is still asking the question is proof of MacIvor’s success.

For more information about Daniel MacIvor and his upcoming work visit