Monthly Archive for: ‘October, 2015’

One-woman show draws merriment from blood cancer

[Woody’s Rating: ★★★½☆

Megan Timpane, wearing a Mohawk when her hair was growing back after chemo, imitates Gigi, a medical worker, massaging her belly fat.

Megan Timpane, wearing a Mohawk when her hair was growing back after chemo, imitates Gigi, a medical worker, massaging her belly fat.

When my wife was treated for breast cancer during midlife 20 years ago, she freaked.

Midway through 22-year-old Megan Timpane’s chemotherapy last year for Hodgkin Lymphoma, a cancer that starts in the white blood cells, the comedian/actor also freaked.

Happily, both survived and are thriving.

The difference is that Timpane has turned her experiences and reactions into a one-woman show with the unlikely but apt title of “Having Cancer Is Hilarious.”

It’s at the 108-seat Upstairs Studio at The Marsh in San Francisco.

And it’s a lot merrier than I’d have thought possible.

My wife wouldn’t go with me, though.

Although she might have welcomed the chance to laugh, she didn’t want to relive the horrific components of her troubled times.

Megan Timpane, as Megan Timpne currently, without Mohawk, without long blonde wig.

Megan Timpane, as Megan Timpne currently, without Mohawk, without long blonde wig.

Timpane, a seasoned 23-year-old film, TV and web actor\ who started performing at age 2, is a talented impressionist/mugger who excels at accents and body movements and spoofing everyday folks lifted from her medical-treatment world.

Such as Dina, a clerk burdened with a split personality; Gloria, who took vitals with a sadistic bent; Gigi, a nurse who would impulsively massage unexpected belly fat; Dr. D.K., who answered “I think it’s just the chemo” to nearly every question; and the performer’s dad, whom she depicts as a toad (replete with “ribbit” croak).

Timpane’s sold-out opening night audience was jammed with enthusiastic friends and relatives.

Many — who undoubtedly hadn’t even been born when artistic/executive director Stephanie Weisman founded The Marsh 26 years ago — were Millennials who valued references to Pink, Rihanna, John Legend and the like.

Although most of Timpane’s material is truly side-splittingly funny, she slips in serious moments — about emergency blood transfusions, golf-ball sized tumors, immuno-deficiency, depression, loneliness, hair loss, nausea and headaches, and the fuzziness of “chemo-brain.”

“I cried for a week straight,” she notes at one juncture.

In contrast, however, she draws a loud laugh by telling audience members that if they cry, “Please take it outside — do not ruin my show.”

The show — which opening night ran half an hour longer than its advertised 70 minutes — features her lambasting hospital hallways (which she exaggeratedly insists had “a sterile feeling…but not a clean sterile feeling…more like a rat-infested sterile feeling”) and stairwells where medical personnel and visitors spread germs and “disclose your personal information.”

Timpane, who honed material under the mentorship of Don Reed, who recently did his own one-man show at the Marsh Berkeley, grew up in Noe Valley, where, she claimed, “there are five nail salons on every corner.”

She’s poignant, however, when talking about a Salinas grammar school class that wrote her letters of encouragement.

Dressed in a low-cut sleeveless purple blouse, jeans and sneakers, she relies on no set and no props (except for one straw hat and a long blonde wig).

While revisiting her treatments for the malady once labeled Hodgkin’s Disease, Timpane cites being befriended by “old people — that’s people over 40.”

I’d love to see a lot more folks in that age bracket get to watch her strut her gifted stuff.

“Having Cancer Is Hilarious” plays The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St. (at 22nd), San Francisco, through Nov. 28. Night performances, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 8:30 p.m. Saturdays. Tickets: $15 to $100, subject to change. Information: 1-415-282-3055 or www.themarshorg.

 Contact Woody Weingarten at voodee@sbcglobal.net or check out his blog at www.vitalitypress.com/

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