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High Wire Act

Becky Drysdale takes chances, captures characters and showcases inspired sketch ideas in solo show.

In “One Woman In Several Pieces,” Becky Drysdale’s show at the UCB Theatre (returning 7 p.m. February 9), she uses comedy to be thought provoking without being preachy, pulling off the high-wire act of being entertaining and funny at the same time through all of that.

Setting out her comic style, Drysdale delivers a parody of a bat mitzvah speech (something Alicia Levy of Drop Six has done, but in a much more crowd-pleasing fashion -- see review) that challenges the audience dipping into more pointed criticism of the whole affair, as she identifies herself as one who would later be bullied out of Jewish summer camp for not being like all the other girls.

This might seem more socio-political from this description than it actually is -- her pointed parody digs in with observations like, “as I blindly mouth the words of my Torah portion, which is apparently a list of laws about counting wheat…”

Drysdale also creates characters outside herself, then acts them out with skill, such as a junior high boy at a dance despairing as he watches everyone else couple up during a slow song, and a time traveler stranded by a disgruntled boyfriend at the helm of the machinery.

Aside from all this, the show also has two definite highlights -- one bit where she eviscerates pretty much all rap music as a torrent of “shit” and “nigger” then plays off a white audience’s discomfort at that as well. And in another she makes personal politics funny with a recital of Dr. Seuss’ “Sneeches” story, only about butch and femme lesbians. You might imagine you could write this once you had the idea -- but the point is she had the idea first and executes it masterfully. This is what it is to be funny with sexual politics or even politics in general without being preachy or simply angry (for example, Citizen Reno in the New Year’s Day poetry readings -- see Jester’s Blog, January 2, 2007).

Drysdale does include some explanatory interludes here and there, but those also pay off and are necessary to tie everything together. She says that a good one person show can be as much about the audience as it is about the performer -- that the best strength on stage can come from being exposed and vulnerable. She proceeds to prove this point with a closing “piece” that combines her knack for capturing characters and behavior just as much as anything she does wearing suits or costumes in the show. With this, Drysdale shows she knows how to tie together a message with a portrayal with funny ideas into a groundbreaking comedic package.




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