San Francisco Fringe 2019
“A chaplain of the NY City Fire Department, Father Mychal Judge is remembered by some as “The Saint of 9/11.” He was the first recorded victim of the tragic terror attacks on September 11, 2001. George is a NYC Firefighter, who Mychal had guided out of an alcoholic closet into the light of self acceptance and recovery. George was with Mychal at The World Trade Center on 9/11 when Mychal was killed. Two weeks after 9/11 George tells his story at a weekly meeting of friends in recovery. In real time, George takes the audience on a very human journey of remembrance, recovery and redemption. “We are as sick as our secrets.””
Sounds of first responders at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan are chilling and as the lights come up the setting becomes an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. George is on crutches and a regular at these meetings, but tonight is different. The invited speaker could not appear and George was asked last minute to speak.
Behind him are two large “Twelve Step” and “The Twelve Traditions” signs and George, played by John Tranchitella, tentatively begins to speak. George is shaky and shaken as he tells us that he himself was a first responder – scared and “in the middle of it.” It’s fresh and he’s still processing it.
His friend and colleague Father Mychal Judge, the Chaplain of the New York City Fire Department was the first recorded victim of the terror attacks on September 11th, 2001. George tried to helped Mike on that fateful day, and Mike had already helped George by introducing him to AA.
My Will & My Life is a play by Harry Cronin, directed by Christopher P. Kelly. Together with actor Tranchitella they are a seasoned team of artists with writing, directing and acting credits in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.
Tranchitella is compelling as George, he is genuine and authentic as he tells stories directly to the audience in the first person about George’s journey and friendship with Mike. Tranchitella’s George is very believable and empathetic when he speaks from the heart about Mike, evidencing that he has a deep acting range, calling on emotions that embody pathos, sarcasm, arguments and humor. A standout moment is when Tranchitella enacts a lively and moving dialogue between Mike and George, playing both characters.
Several brief bars of music play in between sections, which introduce the scene or next theme, but after one or two they seem to interrupt the flow of the play and are unnecessary.
There are deeper themes common to these two characters revealed that emphasize their humanity and understanding of fellow man. Touching on sexuality and struggles with one’s demons the play has depth and veers from what one expects once or twice, which is fascinating.
This poignant play is moving, relatable and a fascinating insight into this meaningful friendship of George and Mike.