Danny Hoch hauled his one-man entourage to the room upstairs at PS122 for a solo performance of Jails, Hospitals, and Hip-Hop. In the time-honored tradition of the Sphinx, Danny Hoch begins his evening with a riddle. “What the hell am I you might be sayin’?” says he. Hard to say. Like the Sphinx, it’s not Hoch’s intention to make it easy.
An incarcerated entrepreneur of Simpson T-shirts (OJ and Bart) awaiting trial in Rikers explains his plans of wealth; a skinny white kid from Montana rehearses his rapper pose like a hip-hop King of Comedy; another kid crippled in a police shooting tries to talk his way into a date while speaking of becoming a fighter pilot.
Hoch breathes brief but unquestionable life into each of his keenly observed creations. What unites Hoch’s strikingly detailed characters is what, in a more sentimental era, might be called the poignancy of their dreams, pitted as they are one and all, against a hard reality the characters themselves can barely acknowledge.
And Hoch’s riddle? A page from The Tempest might serve, when his junkies and rap stars, his halt and his lame have vanished with their dreams from whence they came: “These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits and are melted into air, into thin air … And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with sleep.”