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Fringe Festival 2008

One-Woman Band

Hanna LoPatin does it all in solo show -- and it scores with audiences some of the time.

“The Sound of One Hanna Clapping,” seen August 23 in the 12th annual Fringe Festival in New York, was a showcase for Chicago comedic actress Hanna LoPatin, a 45-minute show directed by Saturday Night Live alum Ana Gasteyer.

This show succeeded most in its second half, where more SNL-like style humor came to the fore -- with a few little pieces that were the sort of thing you would see as little bits by one single performer on Weekend Update -- like a song, or a solo monologue, within that format.

And the best material within LoPatin’s show, mostly in those formats, was that which riffed on her Jewish cultural background (or lack of observance thereof), and woes of being single. The opening parts of the show, geared mostly to introducing herself as a performer, covered standard subjects and experiences that were pretty universal and didn’t do so in any novel way -- like show-business aspirations as a kid, and an embarrassing experience in college theater.

Where LoPatin really scored though, was in one song (she can accompany herself with a few basic chords on an acoustic guitar) imagining the perfect Jewish husband for herself, with a line, “he can read Hebrew aloud/but not understand what he’s saying.” One video interlude in the show, a fake ad for “Date Hanna,” riffed on her self-confessed tendency to be the girl guys date right before they get married to someone else, with slogans like “and when you’re tired, you can ‘Dump Her!’” and “Warning: May Want To Talk For Hours To Achieve ‘Closure.’”

Also in the well-packed latter half of LoPatin’s show was another song, sending up MySpace, and a creative performance piece imagining a potential relationship and life with Michael Showalter, the “State” and “Stella” comedic performer LoPatin idolizes -- achieved with Showalter‘s photo on the top of a coat rack adorned with the sort of clothes he usually wears.

LoPatin definitely shows potential to do great work in this showcase -- it doesn’t really fit the definition of one-woman show or character showcase; it’s more like a middle category of solo sketch show. Probably this show would be enhanced if she collaborated with a co-writer or included another actor to play off in bringing to life her ideas -- which one might expect from LoPatin, since she comes from that Second City and ImprovOlympic background that emphasizes improv collaboration.




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