Spotlight: Chopsticks, Band-Aids & Johnny Unitas

History Theatre

These three one-woman shows (presented sequentially rather than simultaneously, in the interests of comprehensibility) are appealingly limited in scope, and each manages to convey a nicely polished piece of storytelling. Cathy Gasiorowicz leads off with the story of her accident-prone nature, and how over time she began to understand that her strange relationship with her body led to both physical mayhem as well as a struggle with an eating disorder. While she recounts her hot war with "hard surfaces and sharp objects," she obligingly provides visual diagrams of her various injuries and how she received them. Lowlights of her accidental history include ripping off a thumbnail performing West Side Story at Chanhassen, shattering a wrist while choreographing teen performers, and being turned into a pincushion by a passel of knitting needles and a thrown-open door. Gasiorowicz delivers all this with a sort of warped sunniness, and her low-key conclusions ring truer than grand redemption. Nancy Bagshaw-Reasoner follows with the story of her four-month stretch waitressing (with no experience) in the 1970s at the downtown Minneapolis Chinese mega-restaurant Nankin. It's the most easily appealing show of the three, sold by Bagshaw-Reasoner's wry and pseudo-bubbly delivery, and by her eye for detail in evoking the frantic little universe of the waitstaff and their superiors (one manager, gone senile, bans random items, such as forks, and milk, while another sees Nancy's overgenerous ways with drink condiments and shouts, "You think olives grow on trees?"). Bagshaw-Reasoner combines a nugget of local history with her own mocking self-portrait to considerable effect. The evening closes out with Maria Cheng, who announces that her show is going to be about finding spiritual enlightenment (no, one might understandably groan, anything but that). What follows wanders a bit, quite a bit, but Cheng carries much of it off by virtue of a likeable stage personality and deft choreography. At one point she delivers a monologue about her grandfather while simultaneously performing a broad, flowing dance that evokes the words she is speaking. Eventually things hinge on Johnny Unitas losing a football game, then a serendipitous meeting in Spain decades later. As with the two shows that precede it, fewer minds are blown than fancies tickled. But there's nothing wrong with that.

 
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