Posts Tagged City Lights Theater

Calendar Girls: Play Review

Image result for calendar girls, city lightsBased on a feel-good true story, “Calendar Girls” is adapted by Tim Firth from his original screenplay, for Nigel Cole’s 2003 British film, by the same name.  The play focuses on six women and their resolve to make a difference in the world, with meaningful contribution.  Members in a women’s club, these six women, Chris (Anne Younan), Annie (Deb Anderson), Cora (Caitlin L. Papp), Jessie (Ruth E. Stein), Celia (Karen DeHart), Ruth (Mary Lou Torre) often spar with the club queen bee Marie (Patricia Tyler) about how their club could be a more meaningful group.  Opportunity presents itself when Annie’s husband, John (Ken Boswell) passes away and in memory of John, the women decide to raise funds for a new couch in the waiting room of the local hospital.

They imagined that ordinary, run of the mill calendars with flowers and landmarks would not sell easily.  Chris and Annie came up with a unique idea (something they had jokingly discussed earlier in John’s presence). They decided to do a calendar with pictures of their group of mature women doing traditional Women’s Institute activities like knitting and baking, with a little twist. The women would pose in nude as they do these activities, with discreetly placed props to cover specific body parts with little exposure but more of a titillating suggestion.

Image result for calendar girls, city lights   Image result for calendar girls, city lights
Image result for calendar girls, city lights     Image result for calendar girls, city lights

The women were not prepared for the notoriety and eventually international fame the calendar brought them. It took a toll on their friendships and personal lives. Sometimes they lashed out at each other and at other times in their frustration they lost sight of the fact that they had far exceeded their set goal.  While they had imagined raising a few hundred pounds for the couch, they ended up raising nearly 3 million pounds that enabled building of an entirely new hospital wing.

Eventually, these classy women found their footing and solace in their friendship. They recognized that “out of John’s tragic death came something very special; and acknowledged that “everything we do is born out of love for him”. Clearly their little act stood as a symbol of something much bigger than they had imagined. It was sexiness combined with spunk, mixed with a dose of sass that set them free and enabled them to create a work of art, in favor of a worthy cause, and the world took notice and found inspiration.

While the story is played on world stage, Director, Jeffrey Bracco, Scenic Designer, Ron Gasparinetti and Stage Manager, Kimberly Scofield did a fabulous job in bringing the world to the women, on stage. Calendar Girls will be playing at City Lights Theater in San Jose, CA till December 18, 2016 and tickets are available at .


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“Exit, Pursued by a Bear” — Play Review

“Honey, you’ve been recast”.  In “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” award winning playwright Lauren Gunderson brings to life an abuser’s worst nightmare, where the tables are turned and the victim holds the power.  In this raucous comedy dealing with a serious topic, Nan (Sara Renee Morris), a victim of domestic violence, finds a perfect opportunity to exact feminist revenge from Kyle (Max Sorg).  Most survivors of domestic abuse could identify with the plot or may even have had secret desire for revenge.

Nan says, “he is awful and I wish he were dead”.  She is getting help from her gay friend Simon (Jacob Marker) who is acting as her emotional and actual cheerleader and a stripper named Sweetheart (Laura Espino) who seems to harbor a hope for landing an acting job and finds this role very exciting.  As Nan reminisces about her life with Kyle, she reenacts scenes from their marriage, with Sweetheart playing the role of Kyle, so Kyle and the audience can see how horrible he had been to her.  This happens under Sweetheart’s direction and some clarification regarding the plot appears on the screen above the stage, from time to time.

Nan is pregnant and she sees the opportunity to not only rid herself of Kyle but work towards repopulating the world with “gentlemanly, feminist boys”.  Kyle makes feeble attempts at protest against Nan’s version of events.  In Kyle’s version, they are best friends and he occasionally loses his temper because that is what men sometimes do and he promises to fix things.  It seems Nan is getting sucked into the rhetoric and then she is pulled back by her friends who insist that she stand her ground and stick to the plan.  The plan is to leave Kyle tied to a chair, way out in a country cabin, smothered in honey, and surrounded by slabs of meat, to be pursued and consumed by a bear!

Gunderson’s “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” beautifully depicts the absurdity of violence in the context of a relationship built on assumption of deepest level of care and concern.  Possibility of redemption of the abuser and hopes of freedom by the victim, makes the relationship appear as absurd to an outsider, as the couple living it may want to give it meaningfulness and purpose.  This reality of an abusive relationship is delivered through humor and nonstop fun, where Sweetheart and Simon play a crucial role.   Hilariously funny and unabashedly overenthusiastic Laura Espino is the life of the party, the engine that drives the plan forward, when it seems to be staggering.  Director Steve Boyle has done a fabulous job in maintaining just the right tone and keeping it humorous while keeping it real, with regard to the seriousness of the subject.  

“Exit, Pursued by A Bear” will be running at City Lights Theater in San Jose, till June 14, 2015.  Don’t miss this play.  Tickets can be purchased at .

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