They say if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. In the world of solo shows, that statement is sometimes true.
A Horse With a View, written and performed by Christopher Piehler, maintains a steady trot, never quite reaching a full gallop. Piehler weaves his experiences riding horses and his relationships with women together, creating a solid, unique and specified narrative. The way Piehler tells it, horses and women are both good company.
You just can’t help but like the guy. He’s a good, solid guy. The kind of guy that shows up on time, meets deadlines, irons his shirts. The kind of guy that rides horses. With that being said- loosen up a little, bro. Breathe more deeply, sit more deeply into the saddle early on and settle in for the ride. Ultimately, Piehler achieves a wonderful, genuine connection with the audience.
The play held my attention throughout. I’m fascinated with horses and therefore was keen to listen to his adventures. Piehler is a seasoned playwright/performer and therefore constructs a good story. Although this was only fringe show I’ve seen that utilized the projector, I would have loved to see actual pictures of his travels. There were four separate horse tales; perhaps one too many. I wonder what else he’s got? http://hff16.org/3721
Deana Barone’s MetaFam tackles a subject we know all too well: Family. Complicated, dysfunctional (at times), broken and beautiful family. Barone reveals herself fully in a compelling story of love and survival. It’s vulnerable, smart, playful, compelling.
A masterful storyteller, Barone fills the room with her powerful presence. Keen on the fine art of audience participation, her blunt style feels initially abrasive. I’m usually cool with participating as long I’m eased into it. I’m shy. Barone, in her own way, did just that. It was always inclusive, always creative and clever. It almost felt like we were in her living room- and she was glad we came.
Barone understands character specificity and authenticity. The way she “put on” the characters was fantastic. The way she played herself at younger, more tender ages was beautiful. Her characterizations of her parents and siblings were far more than impersonations- but carefully crafted characters filled with love and respect. I can only imagine what she discovered about her family by immersing herself so completely in their personas.
I caught glimpses of myself and my own family throughout this play. I learned something about myself. I felt braver. I felt inspired. I left feeling full and satisfied, and not just because I ended up with the bucket of oranges. Now that is a good day at the theatre. http://hff16.org/3568
As a white woman, I can safely say that white people love to make a big deal about basically nothing. We know this. The amount of time I’ve spent in the last few weeks in a darkened room listening to white women wax poetic about breakups and yoga, clothes and loads of other boring, inconsequential shit irritates and surprises me, and so I’ve created a Solo Show subcategory- WWC, or White Women Complaining.
Okay gals, rules of thumb: If you want to tell us a story, great! Do it boldly and fiercely. You’re a storyteller. If you’re compelled gather us together in order to complain about the shortcomings of your privilege, then go the fuck home. Seriously. Why? Because we’re not therapists, nor do we want to be. Entertain us, stop complaining. Figure out what’s real, immediate, dangerous. Tell us THAT story. If you have even the slightest notion that you’re complaining: RE-WRITE.
Cold Tangerines wasn’t technically a solo show, but it should have been. Adapted by Lynn Downey Braswell from the novel by Shauna Niequist, this is WWC incarnate. To sum up,it’s the story of a white woman deeply unsatisfied with her life of privilege. No real message, no real point. Of all the novels to adapt, why this one? I don’t get it. http://hff16.org/3416
Suddenly Split and Swiping Over by Tracy Held Potter is another prime example of WWC. Why, oh why am I watching a play about TV and texting? If I wanted to see those things, I would STAY HOME. I not interested that your shitty, non-committal boyfriend won’t text you back. Or about your tinder sexcapades. Or that you apparently love love love TV. That simply isn’t stage worthy.
The very last moments of the show were the most real and authentic of the evening. This is where the play began, in my opinion. The rest, I’m afraid, is doomed to be white-washed into the bowels of my memory. http://hff16.org/3791