Robert John Cook
Direction and Vocal Arrangements:
‘My Brave Face’ - Journey in Song and Text
posted to newcritics.com
by Kelly Hadous
December 8, 2007
Recently, at an intimate venue in Queens I had a wonderful opportunity to see the thought provoking cabaret,
My Brave Face. The show consisted of three performers, and is really more like a rocabaret, comprised of
alternative, folk, and rock music. Collectively, Shellen Lubin and Robert John Cook create a richly woven
depiction of a man whose post-youth’s dreary existence is revealed through his subconscious mind. The various
voices and torments of Harry’s subconscious are personified by performers Cynthia Enfield and Matthew Gandolfo;
together they reveal the journey of Harry’s lost paradise.
Harry is the only character who’s in present time, while all the others are set in his past. Both, Enfield and
Gandolfo portray Harry’s demons. The tale begins with Harry’s inner re-enactment of dialogue from his more vibrant
past. As a newly married couple, he and his wife fantasized about being in a successful rock band. However, as the
inner dialogue reveals, Harry who is played by Robert John Cook, remembers himself helplessly spiraling down into a
middle class existence–where sometimes human contact decreases and familial responsibilities surge. The youthful
dreams of being part of an amazing rock band are brought to a screeching halt by reality.
Robert John Cook, who plays the protagonist, has a smooth melodious rock infused voice; he hits notes flawlessly.
The two other performers, Cynthia Enfield and Matthew Gandolfo play the myriad of voices in Harry’s past, and are
also strong singers. Four of the songs are written by Shellen Lubin; my favorite is titled, “Slow Dancing With You”,
and is performed beautifully by Cynthia Enfield and Matthew Gandolfo.
My Brave Face takes us on a journey through song and text as a man reflects on his past, and grapples to come to
terms with his missed adventures.