“The existential loss of adult everything.”
A succinct, comprehensive phrase that encapsulates the purpose, prose, and poetics of “75 Lezbos, 2 Trannies, 1 Pannie, Me & Me Too!”, a one-woman monologue dramatic play written and directed by Sean Surla.
Following a 10-year serious relationship with another woman, “Me” is left in confusion, shock, pain, and loneliness. As she explains to us, in the past year following her breakup, she has dated 75 lesbians, met at all the usual types of socially approved places, from book clubs to speed dating events. She tries to move on with dating afresh, but makes no connections with any of the women – what seems to be the problem? The reasons are of a multitude and as complicated as anything that exists in real life, shared to us by Me, and later in conversation with Me Too, in the form of a monologue narration.
Much of the play centers around Me (performed by Corin Andrade) speaking of her convoluted relationship with her Ex (unnamed), and its lasting impact on self-expression, family life, and self-love. But from the beginning, to the end, the story changes and we’re left unsure of what exactly happened – did Me leave, or was left? Did it end with Me’s release from a suffocating and demeaning partnership, or her involuntary abandonment? It’s a strange but interwoven mix of personal narrative, philosophical musings, and therapeutic advice. At several points, Me quotes Rumi, EE Cummings, and other poets or great philosophers to provide anecdotes on how to live right, and live well.
“She was home for me, and I’m afraid I’ll never find home again.”
It is an honest expression of emotion – and by the level of personal detail of the story, one assumes autobiographical in some ways. It’s an inside look at the inner turmoil of blame and guilt and regret that plagues breakups and the overwhelming need to seek written art from wiser theologians to attempt to explain the unexplainable.
At times, it may be too honest of a representation of a breakup, insofar as it does not feel like it is dramatized enough for the stage. Andrade is believable as a frazzled but reflective woman and is alone on the stage save for a chair and a pile of her philosophical books. A perfectly fine and minimalistic staging, but a space that is not utilized to its full extent. At times, the words feel told, but not performed. This is particularly the case when quotes are read directly from the books, instead of being used as props to suggest the actress is reading. At other times, the performance lacks the conviction and raw passion that the subject matter is intended to convey, although anger is expressed very convincingly.
A couple of things were left unclear to me as I exited the theater, such as what happened to the titular 2 trannies and 1 pannie, who, to my awareness, were not granted any mention throughout. Nor could I put my finger on when exactly the split between Me and Me Too happened. The roles were hard to discern, between questioner and responder, victim and survivor, the confused and the learned, Me and Me Too.
As a one-woman show in monologue format, body language shifts and vocal dramatizations can be capitalized upon to captivate audience, in addition to added direction decisions to distinguish roles, sections, topics, and direction within the monologue. It has all the makings of a deep and relatable story – love, betrayal, doubt, empathy, purpose – but needs to find a stronger way to convey through performance to avoid a lecture-like environment.
Ultimately, I found it to be a worthwhile viewing. As a self-professed lover of philosophy and inner reflection, I appreciated the nuanced insight that connected the spiritual with the real. It was a personal story with personal pains and truths that we have all at one point experienced, and this honesty shone through.
Running Time: 60 minutes, no intermission.
75 Lezbos, 2 Trannies, 1 Pannie, Me & Me Too! plays through July 23, 2016 at the DC Arts Center – 2438 18th Street, in Washington, DC, and Gallery O on H – 1354 H Street, NE, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.
Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page.