Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Loveland": ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG BANG BANG

Ann Randolph is a woman of many faces. She uses three of them in "Loveland" -- her new one-act 70 minute solo piece which takes place on an airplane heading from LA to the small town where the main character grew up: Loveland, Ohio.

The three faces are: Franny Potts, Agnes Potts (her Mom) and Everybody Else. Franny has the sad, elastic expression, where her face is buffeted by surprise and anger and happiness, sometimes all at the same time; her Mom-face is round-eyed and brash, punctuated by loud, alcoholic staccato phrases and always with two fingers holding the imaginary cigarette; the other characters are young ingenues, innocent in their denseness -- the frantic stewardess on the airplane, the mortuary saleswoman, the director of the Hideous Hall for the Soon To Be Dead --oops, that was Franny talking. We mean the Crane Lake Country Manor.

The flight East is uncomfortable for anyone, especially Franny, but Franny would be out of sorts in Nirvana. She is also hell on wheels to the businessman and his spreadsheets seated next to her, the pilot she is trying to seduce, the stewardess who is attempting to keep order and every other passenger on the plane. From this day forward we will always think of Franny's mom when a stewardess talks about the contents in the overhead bin shifting during the flight.

Sometimes a comedian makes you laugh and the great ones also make you gasp, but the amazing thing about Ann Randolph is it all happens every other second. It's true that we remember her new characters from her old characters -- her Mom seems a lot like Brandy the Crack Whore (in 2008's piece "Squeezebox") and Connie with the Asshole Boyfriend is definitely Shoshana Who Just Got Back From Calcutta.

Frannie Potts runs you through all your emotions, and then look out because here they come again. Ann Randolph is a treasure.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards "Loveland" Three Stars with three BANGLES of PRAISE. We looked back at the ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG BANG review we gave "Squeezebox" and this show is funnier and deeper and more satisfying. If there were a few more characters and another surprise in the plot, Loveland would easily be a Four Star show.

BANGLES were made for Franny's sex fantasy with the pilot ("Say your landing strip is wet." "OK, your landing strip is wet." "No, say YOUR landing strip is wet." "OH! MY landing strip is wet.") There is a very powerful scene as she looks at her own face in her mirror. And we can never forget her facial gesturing to a six-voice car alarm.

If you love solo performance you should see every Ann Randolph show. This is the best one yet. Who knows where Franny will end up next?

The Marsh
1062 Valencia Street, San Francisco
Through Nov. 14
$15-$35 sliding scale

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