Category Archive for: ‘Kedar K. Adour’

The Madwoman in the Volvo laughter that can/does offend at Berkeley Rep

(l-r) Sandra Tsing Loh, Caroline Aron, Shannon Holt

              (l-r)Caroline Aaron, Sandra Tsing Loh, , Shannon Holt

The Madwoman in the Volvo: Comedy by Sandra Tsing Loh, Directed by Lisa Peterson. Berkeley Rep: Peet’s Theatre, 2015 Addison Street @ Shattuck and Addison, Berkeley, CA . (510) 647-2949 or   December 16, 2016 – January 15, 2017 at 8pm.

The Madwoman in the Volvo laughter that can/does offend at Berkeley Rep Rating: ★★☆☆☆

The play The Madwoman in the Volvo is actually a monolog with multi-talented back-up. Sandra Tsing Lou creates an autobiographical stage production based on her book of the same name. The format is a clever concept with two women (Caroline Aaron and Shannon Holt) playing characters depicting the women and men in her life as she introduces them without the conceit of playing all the roles by herself. Loh is often overshadowed by Aaron and Holt who move adroitly with quick personality changes matched by the costumes. The fine stage direction by Lisa Peterson keeps the action going packing visual, lighting  and audio cues to support the action that is attractively mounted on the thrust stage of Peet’s Theatre.

The production is booked as a road trip through the triple M’s—middle-age, menopause, and motherhood and it certainly fills that description. These stages in a woman’s life are fraught with pit-falls that can be humorous but creating laughs based on medical or psychological infirmities and individuals behaving badly are an anathema to this reviewer. Loh recognizes that this show is more attuned to women when late in the evening acknowledges the enlightened men in the audience.

Some lines/skits create all out laughter but these are outnumbered by the long lapses of silence in between. There is an undercurrent of blame on external forces (read mother) into her personality defects and her foray into a hedonistic world of ‘Burning Man’ and adultery.

An egregious attempt at humor occurred midway into the evening when she attempted to extract humor from a bout with traumatic radial neuropathy that causes loss of hand-wrist function that is known as “Saturday night palsy.” It is no laughing matter, period.

Loh begins the show with a President elect Trump put down by giving hugs to a few members in the front row then asking and getting a collective yell from all to release pent up fury over the election.

The evening ends on an unearned festive note with balloons cascading from the rafters. There was an appreciative response on opening night with only a few giving it a standing ovation. Summary: An autobiographical monolog with too much information cleverly and attractively staged with superb ‘back-up’ stars Caroline Aaron and Shannon Holt. Running time is 90 Minutes without an intermission.

CAST:  Sandra Tsing Loh , Caroline Aaron and Shannon Holt

Artistic Crew: Scenic design by Rachel Hauck, costume design by Candice Cain, lighting design by Geoff Korf, and sound design and composition by Lindsay Jones. Directed by Lisa Peterson.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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