Set, Vikki Anderson; lighting, Lesley Wilkinson; sound, Cathy Nosaty. Opened, reviewed Nov. 29, 1997, at Buddies in Bad Times Theater; 200 seats; C$ 20 ($ 14) top. Running time: 1 HOUR, 20 MIN.
Random Acts,” Diane Flacks’ third one-woman show, is a case of exceptional performance skills overshadowing a reasonable writing talent. The play weaves a story around three disparate images: a woman in a wheelchair trying to sneeze (an embittered self-help guru who was hit by a bus), a woman drinking tequila while listening to her stereo (a lesbian, dumped by her lover and looking in vain for inspiration from the crippled guru) and a biblical matriarch pregnant at 99.
In addition to the main characters, Flacks portrays a host of cameos, including a prissy assistant and a gum-chewing Latina tow-truck driver. The way in which the characters flow back and forth throughout the piece, their various social and cultural struggles and the seamless performance by Flacks, who removes and adds characters like a series of second skins, firmly position this Toronto actor-writer as Canada’s answer to Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner.
But one difference is that Wagner’s material achieves a universality despite the specificity of her characters, while Flacks has created a show that will probably resonate more strongly with lesbian audiences than with the general public. Whether this is by design or as a result of writing that needs to stretch further is hard to say.
Flacks would do well to take her characters beyond the superficially quirky and the expected. Her acting skills are too extraordinary to be held down by a less than perfect text.