So go on and tell us: which lede/s makes you want to keep reading, and why.
no, not again." The room spins. A woman on a chair writhes and contorts. She
grips the seat, but it is no use. Falling with a thud, she flops about as a
white vortex opens behind her. Snap! All suddenly goes black. The woman opens her eyes in
a nursery and discovers she is now A BABY! This is but one of the many
reincarnations of Miss Witherspoon. In Christopher Durang's absurdly funny play, Keuka College presents a fable--with a few
stumbles--that will keep the audience asking, "WHAT DID SHE JUST SAY?!"
When searching for a personal sense of fulfillment, it is wise to begin with a healthy dose of
suicide. Go right ahead! Run into oncoming
traffic, overdose, invite the dog to nibble on your flesh. Any method will suffice! Christopher
Durang's Miss Witherspoon, as
performed by Keuka College, offers a surprisingly comical take on the perpetual conflict consuming every
down-and-out existentialist. Though the
journey to happiness may be long, even the hopeless
can rest assured events are cosmically
ordained to bring meaning to life. However,
with this production, the journey is so long
and convoluted, hope is nearly impossible to extract.
Chicken Little, Gandalf (The
Lord of the Rings' wizard), an abusive parent, an Indian angel, suicide,
and Jesus Christ in a muu muu are now available in one convenient package! All
of these characters--and more--reside in Keuka College's
production of Christopher Durang's Miss
Witherspoon. As an added bonus, they'll throw in brilliantly conveyed
messages about the weight of consequence and the redemptive power of self, all delivered
in a satiric fashion, all for no extra charge!
College's production of Christopher
Durang's Miss Witherspoon tugged my
soul between heaven and hell. Maryamma (Meghan Russell) a Hindu goddess wrapped
in a divine blue and gold sari, pondered the meaning of reincarnation while
alternately adopting the stereotypical Indian accent of The Simpsons' Apu and the Jamaican patois of infomercial queen Miss
Cleo. As these contradictions snowballed, Miss
Witherspoon left me in limbo.
The world is in danger because humans can't just get along,
the sky is falling, events from decades past traumatize one woman. Only one
person can stand up and save humanity. Who is this hero? Why, Miss Witherspoon
of course! Chistopher Durang's Miss Witherspoon tracks our reluctant
hero's spiritual journey through the afterlife. As with many other Durang
plays, no topic is taboo and audiences will find themselves laughing at topics
they'd otherwise find uncomfortable. However, Keuka College's
recent production was like reluctantly going on a spiritual journey that no one
could stop once it started.
A young woman of no more than 21 flops around like a beached
sea creature. She's writhing in a big way, as though her brown-hued, business-casual
outfit is made of peanuts and she's allergic. Her eyes strain upward, her face
is almost on the ground, and in a terrified flash, her hand darts back toward
her raised hindquarters. Stunned confusion soon trumps horror, as said hand
spastically fans an imaginary flame. We soon get it: she's pretending to be a
dog. This unfortunate, disturbing mishandling of Christopher Durang's
pleasantly dark comedy is the norm in Keuka College's
Miss Witherspoon, directed by Mark
this Heaven? Nope, it's purgatory, and unless you quit killing yourself you're
going to stay here for all eternity! Sticking around may be a problem for suicidal
Veronica, who rests uneasily at the center of Christopher Durang's Pulitzer Prize-finalist farce Miss Witherspoon. Keuka College's witty tongue-in-cheek
production puts audience members in Veronica's shoes. Fueled by rapid comedic
timing and absurdist farce, director Mark Wenderlich creates a fun production
that's stimulates the mind with ideas about morality and hope.
"Who said life has to
move forward? Can't it move backwards, too?" Keuka College's
production of Christopher Durang's Miss Witherspoon,
directed by Mark Wenderlich, provides a unique response to this question. In the place between life on earth and
eternal afterlife, we find Miss Witherspoon - a woman forced into perpetual
reincarnation until she rids herself of bad karma and achieves divine
enlightenment. Unfortunately, this production struggles to accomplish a similar
Peter Starr Northrop
So the lights came up for Keuka College's
production of Christopher Durang's Miss
Witherspoon and immediately this insufferable woman started yammering into
a telephone. Her tone was flat, her voice irritating. I groaned at the thought
of listening to her prattle on for a whole production, and held that thought
for all of two seconds when, suddenly, the sky fell down and she died--much to
the audience's delight. This is how a legendary show begins.
Ever wanted to see a two-week-old baby incite an invisible
dog named Fido into mauling her to death? Never fear, Keuka College
is here with Christopher Durang's Miss
Witherspoon. With the edge of a baseball bat, this script remains a gift
from heaven while the production clings to tearing pages as flames lick at its
Keuka College's production of Christopher Durang's Miss
Witherspoon is a manic dive through contemporary American culture, filled
with rapid-fire commentary on everything from the post-9/11 culture of fear to
modern New Age 'crystal and candle' religions. Sara Munio's Veronica bemoans
her fate (a series of unhappy reincarnations), inviting a playful sense of
cathartic schadenfreude. But the
true show-stealer is Meghan Russell as quirky, overly cheerful guru Maryamma.
life like a box of chocolates? No. Life is a dream-cycle filled with suffering,
sacrifice, and perpetual annoyance; at least according to Miss Witherspoon, Christopher
Durang's suicidal cynic starving for peace in the afterlife. Keuka College's production of Miss Witherspoon came to the Kennedy Center American
College Theater Festival stage to express dual ideas: the importance of
reincarnation and society's future survival. Did it achieve those goals?
Or was the hour and a half simply a one man show with an abusive mother, Hindu
spiritual guide and invisible dog named Fido thrown in for spice?