Writer/performer Carol Schlanger utilizes the occasion of a 20-year Yale Drama School reunion to exorcise a few demons from the life of a 40-ish housewife and mother of two who at one time had shown promise of having “a career” in the arts. Under Mark W. Travis’s loose-reined staging, Schlanger roams freely through the past and present of this former “free love” hippy-turned-insecure-matron; but despite Schlanger’s charming and accessible characterizations, there simply is not enough material to warrant the journey.
Aided by Travis’ minimal but effective set and Philip G. Allen’s hauntingly evocative sound design, Schlanger indulges in a mercurial stream-of-conscious survey of a passion-and-angst filled existence — sometimes becoming the characters who have shaped her, sometimes reacting to them.
In one pass across the stage, she segues from the sophisticated chatter of her reunion to an orgasmic night in the Oregon woods to a poignant reminiscence of her son’s love of lasagna.
The highlightof the show is Schlanger’s re-creation of the Yale Drama reunion at a posh Manhattan restaurant. Schlanger gives a devastating portrayal of former classmate Caitland, a Tallulah Bankhead clone who went on to the fame and glory that passed our heroine by.
Schlanger also offers a titilating description of a potential post-reunion dalliance with movie star Jeff, who unbeknownst to her has been carrying a 20 -year torch. The reunion ultimately serves as a cathartic right of passage that allows her to move on in her life with a new resolve as to her self-worth. One must take her word for it. Despite the often entertaining, free-flowing memory trip, Schlanger offers little insight into the reasons behind the choices that were made or the true consequences of those choices.
Anguish at being overweight, growing old and never having fulfilled one’s youthful expectations are not surprising revelations. Neither is coming to the realization that it just might be a wonderful thing to have a mate and two beautiful children who adore you and need you. Schlanger’s survey of one woman’s life is given able assistance from Marianne Schneller’s mood-filled lighting design and Cara Robin’s simple, multipurpose costume.