Usually I loathe going to one person shows as I don't like boring shows with narcissism, but The Eyes Of Babylon exemplifies neither. In the tradition of storytelling from the Greek theater to Shakespeare to Broadway, this is story telling at its finest. The Eyes of Babylon is based on Jeff's journal entries while stationed in Iraq. It is clear as you watch the show that his journal writing and listening to music is what kept him sane and helped him survive such a difficult environment.
You will be swept away from the very beginning with music and a story of a gay, southern, white, spiritual, warrior, Marine and his discovery of who he is and of what's important in this world.
It is a fast paced 90 minute show with Jeff taking you through some of the more poignant moments of his time in Iraq. There were a couple of the stories that I identified with and enjoyed. One was where he tells the story of being in a foxhole at night on duty with another Marine. As they watch for enemy fire there is a discussion of relationships including Jeff's past relationship with another man. Another is Jeff's interaction with a little Iraqi boy. It is a touching story of a little boy's idealization with a big brother, hero, and mentor and how it ends will leave you with a feeling that this is really what life is about. The show left me with a feeling of raw humanity displayed on stage, with a story which gives you much needed reflection of what is really important in life.
The Eyes Of Babylon is not a political show and whatever your sensibilities or opinions are about Iraq or Afghanistan you will still empathize with this man who on one hand is a patriotic military man following in the military tradition like his grandfather but at the same time he loathes the conflict and the environment which is created by war. Two of Jeff's tattoos stood out to me. On one arm it says "Warrior" and on the other arm "Poet." Both exemplify Jeff's archetypes that he is living in this lifetime. It is a show with sex, spirituality, hurt, pain, and laughter and has something for everyone. It is a well written show and has gotten alot of acclaim. The LA Times wrote: "Disarms our defenses with considerable humor and lingering punch." It is a show that displays Jeff's heart wide open and in his story we can each find a little bit of ourselves whether we served in the military or not. This is a must see show.
The Eyes Of Babylon runs through July 3rd with Saturday and Sunday matinees at the 59E59 Theaters on E59th Street here in NYC. It is written and performed by Jeff Key. Directed by Yuval Hadadi.