Sunday, June 15, 2008

" Squeezebox": ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG BANG

Brandy the Crack Whore is great, and Julie from Christ the King is great, and the banjo player girl with her dirty toenails is great, and Shoshana who just got back from Calcutta is great...above all, Ann Randolph is really, really fun to watch. She plays all these characters and half a dozen more in her latest version of "Squeeze Box," which was originally produced Off-Broadway by Ann Bancroft and Mel Brooks, and which runs through the end of June at the Marsh. Her world is the daily life of Ann, the woman who has been working the night shift at the Homeless Woman's Shelter while pretending to be a successful consultant so she can attract Harold, the accordion player with the three-and-a-half inch long...well, there's a lot going on here.

Rubber-faced and constantly tying her hair into different configurations to match each new character, Randolph is not the classic comedienne who goes for the joke at every turn. Randolph's best moments are just as likely to be gasps of "Oh, no..." as we watch one her characters get ready for another fall.

Favorite moments: maybe when they're camping, and Hopeful Ann is splayed out naked on a bed of pine needles and Mr. Dense Harold says: "Ann, are you ready? and Ann replies: "Don't I look ready?" We can't forget the beautiful surprise touch of the hymn at the end. But maybe the best thing about the show is the search for faith. Ann Randolph makes you think anything is possible, no matter how much insanity surrounds you.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Squeezebox" Three stars with two grateful BANGLES of Praise. Ann, the writer, deserves one star and Ann, the performer, earns the other two. The first BANGLE of Praise is for Brandy the Crack Whore's being able to put 'blowjobs' into the same sentence with 'Brahms,' and the second is for CHOP CHOP CHOP DOWN THAT TREE but you'll have to see the show to understand. You really should. "Squeezebox" is the Marsh at its best: understated and brilliant.

The Marsh Theatre, San Francisco
1062 Valencia Street
Sat. and Sun. through June 29; $15-$35 sliding scale

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