By Leslie Caveny; Directed by Karl Bury
Part of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, New Play
Runs through 8.24.14
The Players Theatre, 115 Macdougal Street
by Adrienne Urbanski on 8.18.14
Leslie Caveny and Rutanya Alda in One Woman Gone Wrong. Photo by Bob Jesser.
BOTTOM LINE: This comedy, focusing on a one woman show that falls apart during the performer's meltdown, is clever and laugh inducing.
Pulling off a solo show is a tricky endeavor, without cast members to guide you along. Furthermore, when one performs a play centered around their own life it’s tricky to not become too self indulgent with the discussion of one’s own experiences. These problems are explored within Leslie Caveny’s One Woman Gone Wrong, which centers around a solo show that goes awry. Within the first five minutes Caveny pretends to forget her lines to a show focusing on her childhood memories. She argues with her friend Molly (Molly Logan Chase) to give her her next lines only to continually flub them. Eventually Molly reminds Leslie that she was supposed to be given an opportunity to sing during the show and wants to know when her turn will come.
When Caveny begins to pin her problems on her horrible “dingbat” mother, her mother (Rutanya Alda) gets out of the audience and argues with her onstage, only to reveal she’s not even her mother to begin with, she is just an actor hired to play her mother. She begins to cry as she realizes she just overacted in her dramatic confrontation with Caveny. “No that’s not my mother, that’s my mother,” Caveny says as she asks for the house lights to be turned on and she points out actor and assistant director Zoe Mann in the second row. “But, I’m not your mother,” Mann protests to Caveny’s deaf ears. “Sure mom, I guess I know now what you really thinking this whole time, that ‘I’m not your mother,” she retorts. Eventually Caveny manages to even piss off the stage manager (Matthew Scanlon) who leaves the lights stuck on the brightest setting as he storms out. Stuck with blindingly bright lights on, Caveny has to perform with sunglasses on and under a borrowed umbrella. As Caveny’s meltdown continues she touches on such topics as a fear of aging, the harsh demands of casting directors, the misery of living, and of course her hatred for her mother.
By taking the standard set-up for a one woman show, parodying it, and then intentionally destroying it in a feigned meltdown, Caveny creates a clever comedic set up. Her rantings on her frustrations in life feel like a fresh and edgy stand-up comedy routine and are surely gripes that anyone can relate to (especially those who have worked in theater). However, at a few points Caveny’s monologue gets a little long winded and would have been more compelling if she had added more stage time to her clashes with the others in her cast, as some of the funniest moments in this comedy came from these arguments. Overall, I, along with the audience, laughed plenty at this original and dark comedy. Caveny shows much skill as both a writer and as performer, expressing authentically the miseries of life and family.
(One Woman Gone Wrong plays at The Players Theatre, 115 Macdougal Street, through August 24, 2014. Remaining performances are Tuesday 8/19 at 5PM; Friday 8/22 at 7; and Sunday 8/24 at 12PM. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org.)