EMPATH: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

After a sold-out run this April, Theaterlab brought back EMPATH, a one-man show about emotional superpowers, written by and starring David Sauvage, that just wrapped its brief return run this month.

The show follows its creator’s path from self-proclaimed “typical Jewish cynic” from LA through the discovery of his gift for experiencing the emotions of others, to becoming a performance-artist-intuitive.

In EMPATH, writer/performer David Sauvage chronicles his own spiritual coming-out as an empath – a person hypersensitive to the emotions of others to the point of experiencing them as his own.  Sauvage’s work is about bringing people back to the truth of who they really are.

“My philosophy is simple. I think there are no such things as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ emotions. They are all important and need to be felt – even negative ones, like grief and hatred. That’s the only way to work through them,” says Sauvage. “You can’t have empathy unless you appreciate people’s emotions. The average person doesn’t have much empathy because our culture prioritizes everything other than emotional well-being,” says Sauvage. “I want to us to value our inner lives as much as our outer ones. I want us to prioritize personal growth above money, status and distraction. And,” he adds, “I want to us to realize that magic is real.”

Part story of Sauvage’s path to empath work and his future aspirations, part performance art piece featuring live readings with audience members, Sauvage has a charm and likeability that puts viewers in the stark, white, intimate space, readily at ease.  As appealing as he is, there are times when the show feels sluggish, but there is an ever-present intrigue to his work, peppered with moments of levity.  He invites participants to comment after their reading — he did three in total — and all felt he had been on the mark. He reflected the emotions he was feeling actively on his face and dug deep. He left each with something constructive to ponder about themselves, inspiring some positive inner work, should they choose to take it on.  And, the same might be said for the audience. If personal growth is your hot button, we can all take a piece of that with us and have a higher consciousness of both our inner emotions and how we emote.

The production, directed by Catie Davis, featured sound and lighting design by Jake De Groot (Oh, Hello on Broadway).

Since 2016, Sauvage has devoted himself to his work as a professional empath, and has performed readings in public at art galleries, in shipping containers in the middle of Times Square, at Burning Man, at South by Southwest and at Facebook’s headquarters. He even performed in virtual reality through Microsoft’s social VR platform Altspace VR. Follow him on on Instagram @empathnyc. empath.nyc