Saturday, November 21, 2009

"She Stoops to Comedy:" ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG BANG

It's 1997. Amy Resnick is just brilliant. Brilliant is what Amy Resnick is. She is a lighting designer. No, she is an archeologist. At one point she is both, at the same time, and then it's while sitting on a bed. But maybe that's in an earlier version. This doesn't make much sense. Let's start again in 1970.

You're just not going to be able to put David Greenspan's "She Stoops to Comedy" into a neat little box. It's a sex farce, a sendup of Elizabethan comedy, a modern discussion of play writing and an examination of gender switching. It's intellectual, it's funny, and despite requiring all your brain cells to be firing at once in order to concentrate on what might actually be happening on stage, the show turns out to be quite touching as well.

Alexandra (Liam Vincent) loves Alison (Sally Clawson), but Alison has gone off to Maine to play Rosalind in a new production of Shakespeare's "As You Like It." So Alexandra decides to make herself look like a man, to audition for the part of Rosalind's heart throb Orlando, and in this way win back her girl friend.

Of course, Liam Vincent is a man to start with, a man playing a woman who is now pretending to be a man. This deception is easy for Alex(andra) to pull off, since we know Alex is actually a man playing a woman playing a man, but Alison thinks Alex, whose supposed stage name is Harry, is nothing but a sensitive man who acts like a woman playing a man.

Get it? Alison doesn't. Or does she? Not so sure.

Amy Resnick's two roles as Jayne Summerhouse and Kay Fein are so beautifully crafted you might not even notice, as this reviewer did not, that they are both being played by the same woman, until both Jayne and Kay appear together in a back-and-forth double monologue, or, that is, only Amy Resnick does, because she is playing both characters, who have a hysterical discussion with each other about life and love. Resnick moves a few inches and totally inhabits first one character and then the other, which is where the brilliant part comes in. She is so good she confuses herself.

Coupled with Scott Capurro's lengthy monologue about being a self-loathing gay man only a few minutes before Resnick's, David Greenspan has given us two astonishing and memorable theater moments back to back. Everybody is good, but these two monologues are both show-stopping.

You walk out of the theater having really enjoyed the show, but you can't help asking yourself: "How DO they remember all those words?"


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "She Stoops to Comedy" Three Stars with Two Bangles of Praise. We have already discussed Resnick and Capurro's Bangles of Praise, but we also have to laud the way director Mark Rucker just loosens the reins and lets this cast go. What a delight. "She Stoops to Comedy" runs all the way through January 9. You shouldn't miss it.

"She Stoops to Comedy"
San Francisco Playhouse
533 Sutter Street, San Francisco
Through January 9, 2010

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