Monday, August 30, 2021

Boy Crazy Psycho Slut (HFF2021)

Spoilers ahoy!

The title Boy Crazy Psycho Slut did give me the wrong impression, but maybe that was me.  Images of some rebellious woman trapped in her teen image and growing into adulthood long after her being able to vote or legally drink came to mind, shades of Joan Jett, P!nk, Wendy Williams, etc.  What I got was different, and I am not complaining even a tiny bit.

Instead we follow Jo Dellapina's (fictionalized) life from childhood on in series of utterly charming vignettes, theatrical and moving and often drawing out laughter, sometimes tears.  It is a poignant journey, albeit less gothic than I'd expected.  Hers is a story we can all feel might be our own, which is not always the case of those who've gone through traumas involving addiction or physical self harm or outright persecution (this is intended as a criticism of audiences, btw, including yours truly).  Her story unfolds and we see her life up until now, shaped by her own desires for love and companionship, by the bitterness of her parents' divorce, by her own feelings of inadequacy as well as raw enthusiasm, even love (and far from only the romantic kind).

At the end, we share her looking to the future.  A very human, ordinary in the way we are all extraordinary, odyssey of the human spirit.  Yes, I wish it were longer or dug in a little more when it came to her issues and pain.  But that seems more like personal taste.  We took this journey with her.  Felt much if not all of what she felt.  Saw her, not a stereotype or pre-conceived archetype, but the fully rounded person who has joys and disappointments in plenty to remember--and, like all of us, to look forward to.  

It made for a powerful show.  A moving one.  

Boy Crazy Psycho Slut has ended its run at the Hudson Theatre Guild on Santa Monica Blvd, but I have hopes it shall be revived.  So should you.  

Lies, Anger and Forgiveness (HFF2021)

 Spoilers ahoy!

Most solo shows tend to be a bit short, especially for the Fringe.  Lies, Anger and Forgiveness seems like it should be much too short.  At only thirty minutes, one wonders how it could really delve much into anything, especially since most solos last almost twice that and leave me wanting more.

But, like a haiku, this one manages it.  Barbara Saba essentially captures the essence of a life lost amid childhood hurt never healed.  She seems to be an Italian ex-pat living in Hollywood, pursuing her career as an actor, but wanting to quit smoking.  Well, she doesn't really want to quit.  In truth she loves smoking.  But she realizes she should and has found a hypnotherapist--also Italian--who has a good reputation.

That therapist herself is a magnificent little creation, utterly vivid, totally believable, and one who literally reaches in to ask the most piercing questions in a breezy, yet extravagant style.  Turns out Barbara's father ran a tobacco shop, so of course she smokes.  Oh but there is much more to it than that...

Of course she is lying to herself.  Don't we all?  Maybe she thinks she needs to stop smoking but what she really needs is to find a way past her own pain, her own anger.  In a startlingly simple set of tiny scenes, she gives us the entire arc of her life, or at least the essence of it.  More, she does far more than act out such scenes--she lives them.  Someone once asked me how actors achieve really moving and powerful scenes and dialogue.  I told them "we pretend really hard, with all the passion of a child, but the discipline of an adult."  Well, Saba pretends extremely hard, with the passion of a very imaginative child, and the discipline of an insightful, skilled adult.  It was an honor as well as a pleasure to see her perform.  The climax of the play worked only because of her own abilities as a performer, and methinks she wrote to her strengths.  Results speak for and of themselves.

Lies, Anger and Forgiveness has ended its run at the Thymele Cultural Arts Center as Western & Santa Monica.  I have hopes it will be revived.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Junk Girls (HFF2021)


Spoilers ahoy!

Another warning--I am going to pontificate a lot here, shocking I know.

Junk Girls is a full-length (or, maybe long one act at 80 minutes) play dealing war, death, and love.  That honestly oversimplifies a lot.  The various characters entwine over the fact so many have connections with the then-current war in Iraq (the play is set in 2007), and one way or another nearly all connect with a young woman who is a U.S. Army casualty notifications officer.  That job is exactly what it sound like.  She has to go and tell loved ones in person their son, daughter, spouse, sibling, etc. has died.  In person.  This CNO has been saddled with an army photographer and a freelance journalist to "record" and of course publicize this process--a fact she finds appalling and thoughtless, and then of course the way the journalist especially shows an attitude of nothing matters, everything is a joke only makes her feel this more.  An added twist--the journalist and her have been friends.

Other twists include the journalist was just in Iraq, met a soldier there and fell in love, but doesn't want to admit it.  

With all this are a lot of almost-dream-sequences, with the officer apologizing to the dead, and at one time three couples in effect march into formation to have a dance.  A phone call from Iraq, mid-combat, bleeds in terms of action into the scene where the person receiving the call is doing something else.  

You can tell there's a "but" coming, perhaps?  There is.  This script skims over a lot, with plenty of scenes we actually need simply not present.  Characters bond off stage, go through traumas off stage (sometimes with barely the tiniest hint of what those trauma are), and frankly at a pace that left me confused--which is odd.  Not to be immodest, I generally follow things better than most.  It seems this script leaves all the really heavy-lifting to be done by the cast, which is selfish, depending on an emotional punch delivered by iconography rather than interaction.

There's another problem.  I was initially a bit startled at what seemed like a group of clearly talented actors, given the task of so much effort by the nature of the script, who weren't pulling that weight.  Flashes of chemistry between several sets of couples, nothing more.  At least two thirds of the cast literally show no emotional change from beginning to end.  Yet the talent remained visible, there on stage.  

Here is what the notice about the play says:  This show has a mix-and-match variable cast with each show being fresh and different.  In other words, most of the cast never ever got enough time with any single character to find that character.  No wonder the chemistry was off!  No wonder so many of the cast seemed to play attitude and general emotions instead of specific desires and attempts to achieve them!  That process needs time, and not only did they not get it, their attentions were dispersed over several different characters instead of one.  Yeah, this kind of thing can work to switch a set of characters, and with enough rehearsal (switching up Iago and Othello is something of a tradition, for example) it can work very well.  But not only in this case did a genuinely talented cast give a weirdly inconsistent set of performances, I have zero notion as to what the remaining performance will be like.  How can I?  I literally have no way of knowing.  So what good can this review be, since the only certainty about the performances I can give is that you won't see the one I saw.

A shame.  This is a play that deals with strong, fundamental issues of love and desire, regret and longing, trauma and courage.  It focuses on the little-thought-on corners of a powerful historical event, and on the individual passions involved.  All these deserve a lot of praise.

This show has one further performance as of this writing, Saturday August 28, 5:30pm at the Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Avenue.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Transetter (HFF2021)


Spoilers ahoy!

Earlier this year, a friend of mine re-appeared in Los Angeles.  Hadn't heard of or from them in awhile, but what with the pandemic that was no real surprise.  When they did emerge, they did so as a new person.

Transetter is a one person show about how Carey Matthews became Veronica Carey Matthews, told with the same kind of humor which I always loved in my friend.  But lots more naked honesty.  This marks the second time a fringe show this year has led me to know a friend far better than before.  Frankly, I feel both touched and honored by that fact.

In a nutshell, Carey's life began to fall apart, due to a variety of issues (see the play for most details--fascinating and often painful) which she gradually makes clear were largely symptoms of a fundamental issue.  Both explained and also acted out before us, we get to know Carey as a young man at war with himself, denying some aspects of his own identity so fiercely it took a long time for those issues even to become VISIBLE!

Veronica introduces herself as that issue, i.e. the person Carey in sense always was, yet needed to find a way to accept and then become.

Honestly, this tale is of a life hitting not quite rock bottom, at least not physically (almost, though).  From this, eventually, the masks begin to fall.  Carey begins to seem themselves for who they truly are, what they truly want.  And--again, I must emphasize--this whole story and performance remains amazingly lighthearted, even funny, without losing its genuine power.  A tightrope our hostess/performer crosses all the way to the end with great skill.

Yet it is not an end.  Such is the whole point.  Rather it is a beginning.  

This show has closed, but hopefully shall be revived at some point in some venue.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Gideon and the Blundersnort (HFF2021)


Spoilers ahoy!

Long ago I came to conclusion that the best dramatic medium to tell epic fantasy is not, in fact, film with all its amazing special effects, but live theatre with its power of imagination.

Gideon and the Blundersnort is an example of why I feel that way.  It relates a story in much the same vein as The Hobbit, and The Princess Bride, with more than a dash or two of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Would you believe a simple black box stage might successfully contain a horse chase through a forest, complete with avoiding trees and leaping over a ravine?  You should!  Because this show has exactly that!  Just as it shows us (in the minimal way, with great success) the monster of the title--and it is genuinely terrifying!

More, and this is the heart of it, the story is more than good, more than simply satisfying.  If feels in some quite fundamental way real, not least because of the ending (which, despite the warning in all my reviews, shall not be spoiled here).  That, however, addresses the book.  What the cast, director, crew do in committing to this story and to the world of knights and derring do where all takes place 100% is the final ingredient without which no play, no matter how well written, can truly work.

A total delight.

One more performance remains, both live and virtual, on Saturday August 28 2021, 2:00 PM at the Studio/Stage 520 N. Western Ave.

Midsummer Nights' Dream

Spoilers ahoy!

Note:  The photo shows the marvelous Lisa Wolpe as Oberon, while the performance I saw had Michael McFall playing the role.  (Photo By Ian Flanders)

A Midsummer Nights' Dream remains a popular but sometimes underestimated play in Shakespeare's canon.  Seen as a fluff piece, to some (like myself) it is more about what to modern eyes seems a surreal look at absurdity, not in malice or despair, but with humor.

The story deals with three groups of characters in and around an imaginary version of Athens, one where the Aristocracy all have names from history and myth, while a "rude mechanicals" who proudly seek to put on an amateur theatrical to celebrate a royal wedding seem like English peasants.  Meanwhile, within the forest nearby a host of Elves and Fairies from a mishmash of folk tales have their own tale to tell, about the King Oberon (Michael McFall) having fallen out with his queen Titania (director Melora Marshall), and a practical joke he means to settle it all with the help of the ever-mischievous Puck (Terrence Wayne, Jr.)

Of course since said rude mechanicals are going to rehearse their play in the woods while this other story plays out, even as the mismatched lovers Demetrius (Ethan Haslam), Hermia (Julia Lisa), Helena (Sara Mountjoy-Pepka) and Lysander (Joey Major) fleet to the self same forest to elope, stop an elopement, etc. meaning all the action is more-or-less happening in the same place at pretty much the same time.  Ideal circumstances for a farce, which in the wooded stage of the Theatricum Botaticum comes off to excellent effect.

In fact the whole show comes across as delightful, with plenty of delicious sight gags, and most of the lines clear and understood by both ear and mind.  In many ways the would be actors amongst the real ones (played of course by real ones) tend to steal their parts of the show--Thad Geer, Elias Wigodny, Sky Wahl, Jacob Salazar, and Ernestine Phillips.  In particular, what proves most delightful about them is their utter pride and sincerity (coupled with lack of talent or professional skill) which nevertheless wins the hearts of the audience on stage and those watching the stage.

Yet as everyone emerges from the forest, their lives and hearts having become playthings, no one feels wronged.  Rather they feel touched by wonder.  In this, most of all, methinks this play shows its greatest sophistication.  Because these folks are not baffled by a world that makes no sense like the Prince of Denmark, nor enraged it does not obey their will like King Lear.  They accept it, grateful for what joy their find in a world at times malicious, at times mischievous, at times cruel or uncaring, yet also which contains love, kindness, gratitude.  Just like they themselves.  

This is a very good production. 

Its upcoming performances are Sunday, Aug. 29 at 4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 5 at 4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 19 at 4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 2 at 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 10 at 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 17 at 4 p.m. , Sunday, Oct. 24 at 4 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 7 at 4 p.m.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Experiencing Love on the Spectrum

 Spoilers ahoy!

Experiening Love on the Spectrum, written and performed by George Steeves, is an intimate and very personal tale, full of humor and winning wisdom the hard way, via experience.

Steeves is gay and has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, also known (sometimes) as high functioning autism.  He recounts, with an almost startling amount of good humor and wit his romantic history up to the present (or at least up until the writing of this piece).  

Along the way, we eventually get an image of a lonely person, growing up with very few friends, struggling with an identity that only seems crystal clear to the very few (and they usually end up mistaken).  One of the most poignant moments, for example, is Steeves recounting how in Middle and High School his classmates pretty much assumed he was gay.  Yet he refused to even consider that might be true, because he didn't want them to be "right about me."


In a good way.  In a way that makes me feel very much one with this young man I hardly know.  Makes me feel one with almost everyone really.  This was a sad little vibration in a life that feels at least in tune with myself.  And others.

Yet again, it bears repeating--this was lovely.  It was funny.  I smiled and laughed a lot watching this show, and felt some quite strong flashes of deja vu along the way.

The show has one more performance scheduled, Saturday August 28, 1pm at the Broadwater Second Stage, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd.

Lady LiberTease (HFF2021)


Spoilers ahoy!

Just mentioning--so far I've only seen solo shows in this year's Fringe.  Not complaining but the next show is a full cast.

Meanwhile, Lady LiberTease is about the personal fallout of Trumpelstilskin's election to a California drama teacher who is also a wife and mother--one who felt (as so many did) profound shock not only that this man (of all people) was elected President, but that the Republican Party swept the into control of both houses of Congress.  She had been desperately hoping in November 2016 to see the first woman President of the United States, that (as she put it) her ceiling would be her children's floor.

In her emotional tumult, she accidentally summons Columbia, the little remembered "Goddess of Liberty" invented by the Founding Fathers to serve as an icon of unity.  Columbia is the statue of freedom atop the Capitol Dome in Washington DC, as well as the model of the Statue of Liberty, and in fact is the source of the name of the District of Columbia.  So begins a journey into the history of the United States, with all the hopes one might imagine, but (more importantly) the broken (or at least unfulfilled) promises.  

More importantly, this is Kirsten's deeply uncomfortable journey through an even more troubling set of truths--exactly what she can do about all this, and how that involves recognizing when she (however innocently) contributes to it.

This show has a lot of passion and theatricality, with more than a few dashes of mythology which is absolutely my jam.

But to be honest it feels more like a very entertaining lecture than a tale of personal revelation, which is clearly what it is intended to be.  Which by no stretch makes this solo show bad, only less than it could be.  It pulls its dramatic punch, so the punch lands with less impact than I think was intended.

This show has one more performance scheduled, Tuesday August 24, 5pm at the Broadwater Blackbox, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd.

Friday, August 20, 2021

La Divina (HFF2021)

 Spoilers ahoy!  

Not being a big fan of opera (although far from hating or avoiding it) methinks I missed some nuance in this solo show La Divina, But, I'm not at all sure I'm missing that much.

Shelley Cooper wrote and performed this piece, an hour long interview with Maria Callas, the great opera star who became perhaps most famous for her relationship with shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.

Who we meet in this interview is someone genuinely tormented, but who refuses to dwell on it, focuses instead on her work.  In perhaps the most poignant line in the whole play she says "When I sing, that is the only time I feel loved."  Fortunately we get to hear (and, importantly, see)  Cooper sing, during which she feels that love and it does indeed transform her.  The rigid, elegant, controlled person in the interview becomes a rapturous artist in song.  Honestly, having no Italian and very little French, I hardly understood a word she said.  But there was no need.  I could tell she understood every word, and meant them down to her core.  

This was indeed exactly what Callas meant when discussing earlier how singing and acting must be combined.  

As the interview strayed into more personal territory, we also increasingly understand this mask she wears when not performing--an almost icy demeanor, a perfectionist who believes (or at least claims) this is just devotion to her art.  It clearly is that, but equally it seems the habit of a child with no power over her life, with an unloving but controlling mother, surviving the Axis occupation of Greece, then later falling in love with a man who was if anything just as controlling as her mother.  Her mask is scar tissue, and her singing freedom as well as love in a lonely life, made perhaps more so by her refusal to feel self pity.  Or, not.

The final scheduled performance is Sunday, August 22, 2:30pm at the Hudson Guild Theatre 6539 Santa Monica Boulevard.

The Book That Won't Close (HFF2021)

Spoilers Ahoy! 

 Some plays/performances make me laugh, others make me think, a few stun with technical skill and passion, some do indeed make me weep.

The Book That Won't Close does all of the above and more.

TL Forsberg's solo show about her love addiction lays bare a lot of often painful truths.  Others, to be fair, run the gamut to hilarious and back (the business with her ASL interpreter is groundbreaking and was worthy of applause in its own right).  But when someone in deep pain reveals that, then explores the reasons why--and there are so very many reasons--expect some tears.  Forsberg's story peels back a deep sense of confused identity (she is, like most who identify as Deaf, hard of hearing--a fact that which renders her a target for all kinds of small and not-so-small abuse from nearly every direction), as well as a generational tradition of women loathing themselves.  An alcoholic father naturally did not help, nor a mother who refused to speak about  her daughter's disability.  This brief synopsis does little to convey the depth and spectrum of what Forsberg gives us.

In the end I was awestruck.  Not least because of the power and skill of the show, but the rawness of what Fosberg shared.  She even introduces us to some of the voices we all have in our soul, in her case this includes an analyst and a nightmare version of her child self.  As we met all these characters, including her various past boyfriends and a few others, the more I did more than simply empathize with this person on stage bleeding her soul for all to see and (ironically) hear, I recognized her.  

That is when I wept.  And I wept again as we emerged into who she has become today.  Not perfect, but healed to some degree, and healing still to some degree.  Also, accepting herself as who she is, including the sharp corners and rough patches.

One more performance of this amazing solo show remains, on Sunday August 29, 1:30pm PST (streaming show available) at the Broadwater Black Box, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038.

The Magical World of Dr. Seus

Spoilers ahoy!  

Last Sunday I went up into Burbank and saw The Magical World of Dr. Seuss from Force of Nature Productions.  Honestly I had a very nice time.  This two person show consisted of Duffy Hudson acting out/telling a series of stories by the famous children's author, intermixed with magician Micah Cover performing magic, interacting with the audience in a skilled and very entertaining way.

Now, I said (or wrote) I had a very nice time.  But someone else had a great time, and that methinks is important.  Nearly all the audience consisted of adults, by sheer chance, but the one little girl in the front row became the total focus of both performers.  Quite right, too!  This is clearly and absolutely a children's show, and while I enjoyed it myself (having emerged from childhood many, many, many years past) this show was created with children in mind.

It is fun.  If  you like magic and/or Dr. Seuss there's plenty to enjoy.  But--if you can bring a child, then the experience is twenty times better.  Because that little girl proved just as much a part of the performance as either of these grown men.  The effect will magnify with every single child in the audience.

Which means of course the children will enjoy it even more!  

This show has two more performances, Sunday, August 22 at 11am and again at 1pm at Generation DCD Studio, 1001 W. Olive Ave., Burbank, CA 91506.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign (HFF2021)

 Spoilers ahoy!

The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign is a live show from Australia.  It marks a return to the Hollywood Fringe from 2017, when I sadly missed it.  From "sadly" you can guess at my genuine joy at catching it this year.

First of all there is actor Joanne Hartstone's powerful performance of the fictional would be starlet Evie Edwards, who grew up in the Depression and went to Hollywood during WWII, eventually trying to be a star.  Sounds so much like a cliche does it not?  Why is it not, though?  Because she created (in pretty much every way, since the script emerged from her pen) not a stereotype but a fierce individual, one with a unique relationship to her hard-working, hard-drinking and very loving father.  Likewise here is someone who connected to specific stories, to individual movie stars who echoed her own life before and after.  Who pushed and worked and tried, with a specific soul getting ground down.

I will remember Evie Edwards for a long time, thanks to Hartstone.  Pretty but not beautiful.  Good but not great.  But someone who wanted so much to be great, to be beautiful, to have her talent recognized and so transformed.  In hard, hard times, she pursued her dream and it proved as heartless as the men who sold it.

Second, I must mention the music, not just the songs but the poignant power in each performance, full of nuance and truth.  Some folks can hit a note, and bleed their souls into yours.  It helps to sing the right songs.

Just as the right set, the right costume, the right music, the right lights all contribute to this deeply moving show.   One where I saw a pretty young woman in black climb up onto the Hollywood Sign, and within seventy minutes I recognized her as me.  

As of this writing, two performances remain, on Tuesday August 24 2021, 8pm, and Sunday August 29 2021, 8pm at the Stephanie Fleury Studio Theatre, 5636 Melrose Ave.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Deconstructing Holly (FF2021)

Spoilers Ahoy! 

Deconstructing Holly, represents one of an explosion of really well-crafted, well-performed solo shows over the last couple of years in Los Angeles live theatre.  It nicely combines both focus and genuine drama in ways worthy of praise.

I'm going to start with one criticism, which is pretty much the only one on offer.  Just to get it out of the way.  The entire ebb and flow of the writing remains very much "on the nose."  Each revelation this character goes through (a refreshing if a bit daunting multitude) is faced in the abstract, we are given a tiny speech, and voila Holly has learned her lesson.  Frankly, this does not seem very human to me.  It feels more like a cliffnotes version of her growing up with both gender and body issues, rather any kind of a journey.  A lot of issues were brought up, then dropped, or glossed over.

Having said that, What is right in this show works extraordinarily well.  Me, I'm a man, so I tend to face a different (sometimes related) set of issues and expectations, yet without a doubt the feelings Holly go through resonated.  An entertaining delivery coupled with genuine heart, genuine pain, accomplishes much.  It certainly did here.  Our one character we follow began life with false expectations, a low sense of self worth, and a definition of self too shallow to work for long.  Escaping from all that in an effort to find Love and become a Mother has within it several paradoxes Holly explores in ways which ultimately hurt.  Her pain is one we recognize.  I could feel it from the audience, but also in myself quite vividly.  

Probably the strongest part was when she all-but-screamed, Job-like, at the unfairness of it all.  She had spent years reshaping herself into a better person, a wiser person, a stronger one--yet in the end her "reward" was to be alone, betrayed, her body surgically altered into something that no longer feels like her, rendering her infertile as well as even more self-conscious about her appearance!  It is WRONG.  It is UNFAIR.  It should NOT happen!

But it did.  And facing that, then going forward, takes a lot.  Holly honored us by sharing the power and (yes) the glory of that effort.

Deconstructing Holly plays at  the Broadwater Black Box, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd, on Saturday, August 21 at 5:30pm as well as Friday, August 27 at 8pm.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Yes, No, Maybe So (HFF21)


Spoilers ahoy!

I will admit the fact Yes, No, Maybe So lists itself as a solo musical gave me pause.  But less than five minutes in that worry evaporated.  Instead I simply went along for the ride, one woman's journey into that most heady of all adventures--making a decision.

Catherine Barnes' show (developed and directed with Jessica Lynn Johnson) focuses on a medical exam which proves very creepy indeed, and then Barnes must figure out what to about this.  Because the creepiness in this case went beyond a few of the lines that medical professionals should not cross.  Yet, hasn't everyone been rude or creepy sometime?  Aren't there more serious problems the powers that be should address?  How much time and effort will be needed to even start the process?  These and at least a dozen other considerations come to mind, only to have her own inner dialogue proceed about the pros and cons.  Barnes' own ability to play a wide variety of characters serve her (and the audience), with some special words should go towards the physicality involved.  Such a delight to see and appreciate!

But what about it being a musical?  Well, the rule of thumb I read once, which still seems valid, goes "Songs are for those moments, feelings, understandings for which at that moment there are no words."  This show achieves precisely that.  And with some lovely touches in terms of style, touches which IMHO work best live rather than streaming (but then, that is a pretty good rule of thumb for live theatre in general).

As of this writing, the HFF website lists one more performance on Sunday August 15 2021, at 7pm at the Broadwater Black Box 6322 Santa Monica Blvd.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

I Heart Maroc (HFF21)

Spoilers ahoy!

The Hollywood Fringe Festival is back and I've seen one of the first shows!

I Heart Maroc is a one person show written and starring Azo Safo,  I have personally known Azo for a few years and was frankly astonished at how much I learned about her in this piece.  Never had a clue she spent two years in the Peace Corps, living in a small Morrocan village.  But more than those bare facts, interesting they may be (and are), what I really got out of her show was how this experience shaped and taught her.

Solo shows remain popular at the Fringe for often purely logistical reasons, and generally they fall into two groupings.  One is a naked exposure of some kind of trauma or pain.  The other shares wonder and joy learned, a delight kindled amid life lessons.  Sometimes the two blend.  I'd clearly say this one falls into the second category, helped in raw showmanship by Safo's marvelous characterizations and humor.  We can see her acting out how the people she knew (and recreates) impacted her enough to become who she has become today.  Honestly, I felt not only touched, but honored.  Which brings me to the one specific fault I can find.

This show is too short.  At roughly forty five minutes I seriously believe it could and should be expanded to twice that.  One can feel the material off stage as it were, eager to jump into the follow spot and shine.  I am left with an aching sense of what else I don't know about my friend, and about this interesting young lady I only thought I knew.  She lived there for two years--and I'm certain lots more stories, lots more moments to touch the heart and stir the imagination, remain to be told.  Hopefully she'll get around to telling some more.

I Heart Maroc has only two more performances--Sunday the 15th at 3 pm and Sunday August 22 2021, at 10:30pm (which can be viewed virtually).  I recommend highly you do not miss out!