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