Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday Night at B Street

Photo: Sacramento Press
Short week, long hours, survived it to meet Margaret, friend and Sacramento theater maven, for the B Street Theatre production of Lisa Kron’s Tony nominated play “Well.” Wore jeans and sweater and the long, red cashmere coat I found at a thrift store. In the theater, eyes crossed with fatigue, I wrapped up in my coat and longed for pajamas as the lights went down.

Kron’s work is a melding of prose and performance art that blurs the line between theater in the traditional sense and spoken-word performance, part biography, part audience participation -- tossing bagged pretzels to those in the front row, piercing the invisible barrier between life on the stage and life in the loggia, romping around the small theater.


Playwright Lisa Kron
 Elisabeth Nunziato, playing the playwright, carried the conversation and on-stage happening in real time, grousing, lamenting about her mother’s chronic ill health, juxtaposing anecdotes that at first didn’t make sense, with little cabaret riffs and racial commentary and visits to the allergy hospital that seemed more like a nut house, interspersed with exchanges with her mother, played convincingly and touchingly by veteran Polly Adams (Broadway, TV, Movies).

The work resonated with big questions – do we make ourselves ill, is illness a choice, is being politically correct ultimately incorrect? Tired as I was, the one-act play’s provocative questions lead me on a journey to find my own answers. And, "Well" is funny, with Amy Kelly providing hilarious antics – along with Jason Kuykendall, Anthony D’Juan and Shanel Moore.

On Kron's Web site, she describes her work as seeking to find the humanity in the crevices of human behavior, concentrating on where we are derailed by awkwardness, grandiosity, pretentiousness, vanity. She said she seeks to find the authentic human qualities in that gap between who we think we are and how we actually behave.

Kron said she is “dedicated to creating theater which is 'intravenous' -- that is, work that goes into the mind and heart of the audience via the serum of a beguiling theatrical entertainment. Audiences leave her plays challenged, thinking and talking -- but while they're watching they're rendered receptive and captivated by her combination of authenticity and theatricality.”

Tired as I was, disinclined to think, "Well" was a stimulating experience. My headache went away and I started to wonder. When it was over, I felt alive with ideas, eager to put them into words. Margaret watched me struggle, wide awake now, to give expression to what I’d just experienced. She smiled and enjoyed the effect of Lisa Kron's seductive work. It will wake you up and make you think. Not bad for a Friday night in Sacramento.

"Well" runs through Dec. 4, more info is at Bstreettheater.org.