WANT OF A HERO
A ONE MAN PLAYby JOHN BYRD
Actor Harold Hainsley has created his own one-man tribute to FDR, his hero and a model for his own struggles to overcome polio disability. As a disabled activist and advocate, Harold, soon after being afflicted at nine, read, watched old newsreels, and learned everything he could on America's hero president. All these years later, after all his attempts in showbiz, Harold is about to perform his tribute. [Dispite] his crutches and wheelchair upstage, Harold is the model of the self-assured and self-made man.
Regaling the audience with his personal struggles to become the man before them, Harold draws parallels between himself and his hero FDR in what the both of them have endured through their mutual affliction. Harold, like Roosevelt was, is polio disabled. Though born many years after his hero's death, he read all he could on FDR and his struggles to overcome the affliction that struck him at age 39, just as he was within grasp of the biggest prize of his political career. Harold is at once nostalgic, humorous and heartbreaking in his storytelling, speaking as himself, and mimicking, among other characters in his life, FDR and his speeches.
We learn of Harold's heartbreaks in love, and how he grew a cold detachment from the pain of a cruel society as he grew up. He learned early on that a quick wit and having more on the ball than the "normals" helped to cover all feelings of inadequacies. He takes us through his years as a college student, discovering acting, then later in New York in the Seventies, struggling to make it on the stage. It soon became apparant that he was a gifted stand-up, and was apart of the comedy club scene. He performs some of his best material as part of his one-man show.
Relating his story along with that of FDR's, there is a strange tension and edginess to Harold. We have the feeling that he is working up to a more important issue that he needs to address. There is more to his story and to his feelings about the charming man in the White House who saved the world during its darkest hours.
Harold finally brings himself to reveal what he's suppressed all these years, His gut-wrenching revelation relates a shameful episode in FDR's presidency. One that Harold's father never forgave when forbade him from ever mentioning the president's name in his house, and now Harold was involuntarily admitting to himself in front of the audience. It is devastating to him, and a shocking revelation to those who have never heard of this sad chapter of American history.
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