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Imagine Your Thirties

Maggie Surovell’s comedic solo memoir piece, “Warning Signs,” mines a few good laughs, although its youthful idealism lacks the depth time can provide.

Maggie Surovell’s solo show, “Warning Signs,” which most recently appeared in the Cherry Lane Theatre’s “Cherry Pit Late Nite” series, takes a welcome approach to the one-person show format, depicting characters, sure, but all within the context of a linear story from start to finish.

That story is her life story, though, and while some of her experiences are interesting and some of the construction of the storytelling has an artistic flair, the youth of this artist does reveal a certain naiveté about life that can come off a bit cloying at times.

It’s nice to believe in certain dreams -- I’m certainly a John Lennon fan too -- and she sings his songs both comically -- rewording “Imagine” as an anthem for being a vegetarian -- and earnestly, recalling singing “Give Peace A Chance” at a rally against the war in Iraq. Being a little older, though, makes one think using this song in that context is not as apt as it was in its day.

Surovell portrays her parents and grandmother with a cartoonish tone (when compared with Mishna Wolff, previously reviewed on this site, who gives her own parents more dimension in her show), but gets laughs with these caricatures all the same. A couple great moments: her feminist mom railing against her shaving her armpits when she gets embarrassed by the hair at school; her oblivious dad telling a restaurant that they’re there to celebrate her womanhood, namely her first period.

It’s universal that parents embarrass their kids, but Surovell has an original spin on this idea, where her parents’ 1960s/70s values are the cause of the embarrassment -- like when she calls her dad in a panic after losing college term paper work on her computer, telling him, “If I find this paper, there is a God!” to which atheist dad says, “Don’t say things like that!”

The earlier parts of the show have some scenes about first crushes and schoolyard rivalries that seem a bit standard. Overall, Surovell’s solo show as it stands now definitely has its moments, but certainly has room to improve, and it would be good to see her turn her artistic eye a bit outward from immediate family -- maybe relationships perhaps?




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