Written and Performed by Rebecca Perry; Directed by Michael Rubinstein
Part of the 2014 Frigid New York Festival
Off Off Broadway, New Solo Show
Runs through 3.7.14
Under St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place
by Eleanor J. Bader on 3.3.14
Rebecca Perry in Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl
BOTTOM LINE: An engaging, sweet, and slightly cornball coming-of-age story
When Joanie Little (Rebecca Perry) is in her last year of college, she attends a lecture by primatologist Jane Goodall. The inspiring talk sends the here-to-fore unmotivated student into a high-octane career panic. After all, save for blowing her savings on a trip to Europe, she has neither post-graduate plans nor intellectual passion and will soon face the inevitable challenge of finding a job. Wanting to do more than simply keep her creditors at bay, Little is at a crossroads.
As she tries to figure out what to do, Little concludes that she is qualified in just two fields: Bartending and working as a barista. She opts for the latter -- telling herself that she’ll be “the Jane Goodall of the Toronto coffeeshop jungle.” She begins by keeping a diary -- a daily handwritten account of the who, what, and how of the coffee and tea trade. In it, she describes the many characters she encounters, from a patron who demands a lactose free lilac latte, and then spits at her when Little gets it wrong, to another who orders a scalding hot, 189-degree red-eye to go. It also details the many ways in which her boss and co-workers tick her off.
All told, Little’s account is a comedic chronicle of the thankless job done by underpaid and exploited service workers. It’s ho-hum misery, leaving her to wonder if she should even have bothered going to college and worrying that she may never find the fulfillment she craves.
Then, while standing behind the counter making espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes, a guy Little dubs Prince Charming walks in. Marco -- said Prince -- engages Little in across-the-counter conversations that go above and beyond his daily order. Little is quickly smitten, and while the pair never go out on a date, Marcos ultimately motivates the unhappy young woman into figuring out what she wants to do with her life. It’s sappy and simplistic, but tender.
Part of Confessions’ charm is that music -- Perry belts out songs written by Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Rufus Wainwright and The Head and the Heart -- enlivens the otherwise predictable storyline. And Perry’s range is impressive; whether R&B, jazz, or pop, her vocals soar. What’s more, as a window into the all-too-real troubles facing today’s debt-laden university undergraduates, Perry’s monologue is an entertaining look at a compelling and serious issue.
(Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl plays at Under St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place, through March 7, 2014. Remaining performances are March 5th at 8:40PM and March 7th at 8:30PM. Tickets are $15, $10 for students, seniors and veterans, and can be purchased by visiting www.FRIGIDnewyork.info or by calling 212.868.4444.)