Ted McGrath and Patrick Combs
Ted McGrath Productions
Author and performer Ted McGrath was at the top of his sales profession and considering expanding into motivational speaking when he overdosed on a combination of drugs and alcohol. Good Enough by McGrath and Patrick Combs is a warts-and-all autobiographical monologue exploring the psychological demons that damaged his self-esteem and so drove him to this low point.
Good Enough is a very polished production filmed on stage but without an audience; it is of an exceptionally high quality as if a mainstream show has ended up on the Fringe. When the script requires a disco setting, full-on strobe lights and an ear-splitting soundtrack blast out. McGrath’s arrogance and insecurities are apparent in the personality he portrays on stage. A cocky grin alternates with a wide-eyed look of bewildered innocent hurt as he recalls how his father never seemed to appreciate or acknowledge his achievements.
Like Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, the play is a cautionary tale showing the darker side of the American Dream in a way that makes it look like tremendous fun. McGrath describes the serious issue of how his insecurities and abandonment issues drove him to excess from an early age; but the tale of drunkenly eating goldfish sounds like a bawdy scene from the movie Animal House.
McGrath clearly does not endorse his own behaviour. He is ashamed recalling how he was caught delivering a stolen speech in the presence of the actual author. Indeed, much of his self-destructive behaviour seems motivated by self-hatred. Arms aloft in triumph, he recalls how he celebrated his success in a tennis tournament by becoming addicted to drugs. However, while McGrath is candid about his behaviour, his insight into his motivation seems low. The revelation that he deflected the anguish from feeling abandoned and unloved by his father into anger and occasional violence on other people seems obvious.
Attending and writing about theatre on a regular basis inevitably means one occasionally meets actors socially. I have always enjoyed this experience but often wonder how far it can be considered ‘true’. After all, actors play different characters every night so if they cannot turn on the charm during a chance encounter, they would be poor at their jobs. This reservation applies to Good Enough; Ted McGrath is a professional salesperson and one wonders if he is using the play to sell something—possibly himself. This comes to mind as the conclusion of the play, after McGrath has exorcised his demons, turns into a series of blunt feelgood motivational messages which lack subtlety.
Reviewer: David Cunningham