One-person shows lie thick upon the ground, so it was good to get called out to see two of them at once when both were as entertaining as these.
Kim Gatewood framed her act with the character of Dr. Karee, a drab, ineffectual ditz. The remaining characters are her patients, on whom she makes house calls. The patients include a vapid guitarist, strumming paeans to the bright side of life, when all the good things she can think of are progressively more distressing symptoms of her own poor self-image. Also on display was an ear-eating depressive - who eventually succeeds in this, one would think, impossible stunt (impossible when it's your own ear, that is). The characterizations were broad, distinct, and completely deranged, and each sketch had a definite punchline.
The set comprised a few small set pieces and props, ready for each patient. Gatewood's costume changes were nimble and didn't hinder the flow of the action. (Directed by Paul Scheer.)
Brian S. Finkelstein's act was more ambitious dramatically, involving at one point a counterpoint between two completely different monologs on opposite sides of the stage; he crossed from one to the other, switching dialect, without dropping a beat, aided by synchronized lighting. Subjects ranged from Tiananman Square to slackers on a sex-and-booze spree in Tijuana. (He also used a TV monitor, with commentary from a young girl, to less effect.) His characters tended to be more discursive than Gatewood's, at one point breaking into a sort of deranged rap. The writing might benefit from pruning and focusing, but it would be hard to claim to be bored. Finkelstein wove a complex web from simple materials. (Directed by Adam Swartz.)
The facilities at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre were crude but sufficient. The lighting, including green back light, was used to effect by the uncredited designers, especially in Finkelstein's act.
Both performers put on shows that were raw, pungent, and energetic. This is not your maiden aunt's theatre - but it displayed much that is endearing about Off-Off-Broadway.
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Copyright 2001 John Chatterton