Idea for a play: Chubby middle-aged guy holds forth for two hours on how his failure to pay taxes for seven years mushroomed into a paralyzing $80,000 debt. Admittedly, the scenario doesn’t have a lot of theatrical pizzazz. Yet Josh Kornbluth, the winning monologuist whose Red Diaper Baby recorded the travails of growing up with Communist parents, spins a compelling yarn from the unpromising materials of his IRS entanglement. That there’s a romantic interest certainly helps. But Love and Taxes works through the idiosyncratic force of Kornbluth’s personality. He may be a nebbishy “fuckup,” but he’s a fuckup with brains, one who can’t help querying himself and the world around him for the reasons for his quotidian disasters.
Not that his avoidance of his yearly tax bill is so hard to explain. Kornbluth inherited from his folks an attention deficit disorder when it comes to red tape. He breaks out in a sweat putting a letter in the corner mailbox, never mind having to contend with the formidable paperwork required of an artist filing as an independent contractor. If it weren’t for the good things in his life—a female soul mate who’d marry him if he could get his act together, a possible movie deal based on his critically (if not financially) successful theater piece—he wouldn’t even bother to recapture his lost status as “citizen.” But unlike his hippie parents, whose 1960s anarchist streak engendered family chaos, Kornbluth has the simple dream of becoming a stable “provider.” Banal, yes, and a touch long-winded. Yet the poor guy is so ironically self-observing, you can’t help rooting for him to free himself from the voracious feds.