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Thursday, May 22, 2014

In 25,000 Posts, James Lapan Details His Economic Depression

Posted by on Thu, May 22, 2014 at 4:55 PM

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The autobiographical solo show, like the violin, is one of God's most delicate creations. Played well, it's heaven; played badly, it's hell. 25,000 Posts, by actor, father, and real-estate-sign installer James Lapan, sits in the upper reaches of purgatory: It has some great pleasure, insight, and promise of being even better, though at times it feels too long.

Lapan's story begins with a tutorial on installing the for-sale signs you see in front lawns and parking strips around town, which takes more work than you'd think—not just the driving around, digging, and screwing on flyer boxes, but finding the right house (good clues are fresh paint and a lock box on the door), making sure you don't hit a sprinkler valve, and being careful you aren't installing a sign near a tree that's about to leaf out and block it from view or near a construction site that's about to turn your well-chosen chunk of grass into a driveway. You have to negotiate with emotional neighbors, fussy real-estate agents, and passers-by with dumb questions like "How much for the house?" (Lapan's fantasy answer: "$10,000 in cash or certified check, but you have to pay me in the next 10 minutes.") But these small details about a humble corner of the real-estate industry are really a keyhole he provides to let us peek into the financial crash of 2008, as his job became more ominous—as did his personal life.

Our narrator (sign installer by day, actor by night) and his wife had bought a house in Rainier Valley in 2002 with a mortgage that was, in retrospect, unwise. "Is my credit actually that good?" he asks himself, and us, as he signs the papers. "Do they know about my student loans? Am I getting away with something here?" Turns out, he was—and then he wasn't.

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