ART ShopAbout UsActor InfoAuditionsOnstageTicketsFilms

HomeContact UsStaffSupportPast ShowsLinksNews

Virginian Pilot
April 24, 1999

by Mal Vincent


“ALL MY LIFE I wanted to be somebody. Now I see I should have been more specific.” So says a character in the probing and challenging The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, holding court at Norfolk's innovative 2nd Story Theatre.

This is an intriguing evening of one-actress bravura. Pam Good's energy, timing and emotional commitment are awesome to watch as she becomes 11 characters. She proves that this play need not remain forever in the shadow of Lily Tomlin, who performed it on Broadway in 1985. As a vehicle for a single actress, the play produces a triumph or nothing at all. Happily, the former is the case here.

This work is more complex, intricate and deeper than anything Good has attempted before, and it is obvious that she savors every moment of it. She's like a panther ready to pounce on every line.

And there are some great lines — insights that send us away with thoughts to ponder. Kate, a trendy and jaded socialite, points out, wearily, that “it's one thing to have a boring marriage, but a boring affair doesn't make sense.”

Someone else observes that “having everything can make you stop wanting anything.”

We are informed that “human beings are the only species that play to win. That's why we have so many losers.”

More than a monologue, this is a play for a lone actress, with the characters forming an ensemble. The writing, by Jane Wagner, ranges from the profound to the strained. Regrettably, much of the material is now dated.

Yesterday's issues are too much at the forefront. The material is obsessed with cocaine and marijuana use. People talk about listening to John Cage tapes and gathering to compare Patty Hearst theories. We are told of the regrets that “there is no more avant garde.” The women's movement seems an issue, carefully detailed from the birth of Ms. magazine to the vice-presidential nomination of Geraldine Ferraro. There are even G. Gordon Liddy references. All this stamps a particular old-hat image on the evening, particularly for a theatre so committed to newness and daring.

But if Signs is now to be taken as a period piece rather than an on-the-edge evening, it should still be taken. It remains original and subversive.

2nd Story Theatre is understandably looking for another hit to match its successful run of The Kathy and Mo Show, in which Good was half of the cast. Signs is not likely to be that show.

Under Steve Koherr's thoughtful direction, Good effectively uses body and voice in place of props and costumes.

And Good, ultimately, is the main reason to see The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. She is highly creative and determined commitment to make it work, and her determination turns it into our fascination.




© 2005-2009 ART
Int'l Laws Apply.
All Rights Reserved.