Only a few anecdotes into Charlayne Woodard’s “The Night Watcher,” it’s hard to shake the notion that you’re in the presence of one of the finest dramatic monologists in America today. It’s not just the depth of her thesping skills that gets you — the versatile voice, committed physicalization, mobile face and utterly winning smile — but also her unflinching willingness to recount incidents that don’t always end happily or make her look good. Beautifully helmed by Daniel Sullivan and expressively designed, “The Night Watcher” is a cinch for further exposure, including broadcast.Woodard and the husband she calls “Harris” don’t have children. Don’t want ‘em, either, and they remain immune to the cajoling, pleading and denouncing of family, pals, total strangers and even celebrities. Which is not to say she has left no ripple on other people’s sands. Quite the contrary. Her interventions in the lives of her countless nieces, nephews and godkids — sometimes comical, sometimes terrifying — support the crucial, unique role of an “auntie” or friend in a youngster’s development, no matter how absent or engaged the parents. If it takes a village to raise a child, there have to be villagers, and Woodard is one of those who step up and make a difference. Tal Yarden’s projections and Geoff Korf’s lighting persuasively, evocatively change the locales to complement Woodard’s blissful storytelling.
Kirk Douglas Theater, Culver City; 317 seats; $45 top
A Center Theater Group presentation of a play in two acts written and performed by Charlayne Woodard. Directed by Daniel Sullivan.
Sets, Thomas Lynch with Charlie Corcoran; costumes, Jess Goldstein; lighting, Geoff Korf; original music and sound, Obadiah Eaves; original projection design, Tal Yarden. Opened, reviewed Nov. 20, 2011. Runs through Dec. 18. Running time: 2 HOURS.
With: Charlayne Woodard.