By Matt D’Silva
“That Wonder Boy” starts as a satirical look at a farming couple that wants to have a child, but can’t ‑ think Superman. Suddenly, a mysterious metal canister crashes through their barn. But then Bob Stromberg breaks character, reveals his true self, and takes us on a warm and charming journey through his life, peeling away the layers.
Mr. Stromberg grew up in 1960s rural America, and first got the acting bug at a childhood Christmas concert. He and his classmates lined up nervously on stage, with their parents in the audience. Energy buzzed around the auditorium. Finally, his teacher appeared on stage and walked over to the podium, where she was about to conduct. She had big hair, a brightly colored outfit, and huge sequined glasses perched on her nose. But something was amiss. She hadn’t realized her skirt was tucked into her underpants.
Mr. Stromberg’s stories are very funny. His mischievous delivery is punctuated by dramatic pauses that create anticipation and draw out a laugh.
Many families keep photos and slides in their basement, and Mr. Stromberg shows these images to provide a humorous back story to his life. His father had a passion for photography and delighted in capturing family moments. The problem was that many of the slides were double or triple exposed, which resulted in family portraits blending with strange landscapes or random figures. A standing baby makes an appearance in a number of the slides, almost like a Where’s Waldo.
When he became a father, Mr. Stromberg would do anything for his children. He drove through unplowed snow to get to a pharmacy when they were sick. He worked multiple jobs to provide for his family. But he also had the resilience to “walk it off” when life got difficult, and never lost his innate sense of joy and optimism.
In “That Wonder Boy,” the cheerful, energetic Mr. Stromberg shares family memories, reflects on what he’s learned, and performs the occasional musical number. It’s entertaining proof of his love of life and laughter, and how much he enjoys sharing it with an audience.
“That Wonder Boy”
Written and Performed by Bob Stromberg
Directed by Risa Brainin
October 5 at 2 PM
Photo: Courtesy of the Production
2019 United Solo Theater Festival
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
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MATT D’SILVA recently moved to New York from Sydney to pursue his dreams. He has been working in the performing arts industry for longer than he likes to admit, but still loves and enjoys the work. Matt is finalizing his first book and hopes to get it published on day soon.