Photo by Carol Rosegg

Academia certainly has its merits, but quite often, the best life lesson’s can’t be learned in a book. The true testament of survival exists on the streets. No one understands this quite like John McDonagh, the writer and star of Irish Repertory Theatre’s Off the Meter, On the Record. 

For 35 years, McDonagh has been transporting New Yorkers and visitors in a ubiquitous NYC yellow taxi. And boy, oh boy, does he have stories. Embracing Sondheim’s lyrics of “thoughts shared, souls bared”, McDonagh spins a thoroughly enjoyable evening of toils and tales which reflect the resilient and resistant spirit of New Yorkers.

This war veteran and activist is a natural born storyteller. He relays his memories with swagger and assurance but is ever mindful of his humble foundation–and his own humanity.

Photo by Carol Rosegg

Over the course of 75 minutes, he reveals fascinating characters and schemes which will leave you grinning from ear to ear. I won’t reveal any of them–which means you’ll have to hail a cab to Chelsea to hear them for yourselves.

Set designer Charlie Corcoran has kicked up an already stellar play with a unique taxi set–made completely from a retired cab. Director Ciaran O’ Reilly ensures that the show steers clear of congestion and unnecessary detours.

The likes of McDonagh are few and far between. His brand of storytelling and his homespun common sense provide the perfect armor against our modern, never-ending war against general stupidity and incompetence.

After spending an evening with this city treasure, you’ll never look at cabbies in the same light–and you’ll feel a rightful pang of guilt when you use a car service app through your smart phone.

Off the Meter, On the Record has been extended through November 18th @ Irish Repertory Theater (West 22nd between 6th and 7th). For tickets and information, visit Cab Driver Play.