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Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

New solo character showcase and musical sketch show work best when over-the-top.

Jill Donnelly’s show at the UCB Theatre, “Amnesia & Attempted Murder,” seen May 6, plays out an idea of showing several characters all revealing their own flaws by focusing their attention and monologues on the one character who’s not there to respond.

Donnelly mixes broader and bawdier characters with more loopy and spacey ones in this show, which revolves around the characters all talking on a videotape to be sent to their friend and relative, Jane, who’s in the hospital with amnesia after falling or maybe being pushed down a flight of stairs.

There’s Jane’s sister Colleen, who appears more than once as the show progresses, and is definitely trying to fill Jane with her own opinions since she’s become a blank slate. Also Jane’s hick-ish co-worker, who also seems to have a lesbian crush on her. And Jane’s son and daughter, both addled in their own ways -- he’s a nerdy D&D playing college student and she’s got a bizarre laugh.

But it’s two other characters Donnelly has in the latter half of this show that are more effective because they are more over-the-top -- Mrs. Middlestein, Jane’s hard-drinking Australian former maid. This character is like one part Benny Hill and one part Monty Python. Donnelly also brings forth Jane’s neighbor, an opthamologist whose husband is also a doctor, and who is insensitive with her comments about Jane’s plight.

There are other little nuances to Donnelly’s show among the succession of all the characters and others they speak to offstage, that sneak up on the audience for the show’s ending. All in all, the show, co-written with director Amy Flanagan, is a good original showcase for Donnelly’s comic characters.

“Amnesia” was paired up with “Girl Camp,” a laugh-out-loud funny and crowd-pleasing musical sketch show that marries the tone of “Rocky Horror” with the summer camp comedy of “Wet Hot American Summer.” The co-leads, Leslie Korein and Marcy Jarreau, even manage to fit some nuance in amid the broad comedy of the show, that makes it go over all the better, and supporting players Sam Reiff-Pasarew and Elana Fishbein (see review of her solo show from 12/2/07) have a lot of fun with their parts.

Jill Donnelly’s show returns May 20. Girl Camp returns May 28 with Charlie Sanders “Minnesota Muslim” (see review from 11/15/08).




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