Simpatico Proffers Reflective Natural Shocks
This has been a good week for me. I got to see two one woman shows produced professionally with an outstanding actor in each. Things like that are the real perks of reviewing theater. Simpatico Theatre, who always likes to push the theatrical envelope, gives us Natural Shocks written by Lauren Gunderson, the most produced living playwright in America. The production is directed by Elise D’Avella and features Amanda Schoonover, one of the Philadelphia areas outstanding actresses.
Natural Shocks introduces us to Angela, an insurance employee whose self-acknowledged ability with numbers makes her longing to be an actuarial. She has joined us in her basement because of an impending tornado. She addresses the audience as if they are sharing her situation, but not knowing what really is happening. This is accentuated by her revelation that she is an excellent liar. We immediately recognize that she has a fair degree of self-delusion. There are so many yarns she spins all of which are plausible, but some of which are contradictory. The audience goes through a period of “what’s going on here?”, but Amanda Schoonover’s Angela is so vulnerable and compelling that you are willing to follow through all aspects of her tale which challenges the audience’s understanding of the title “natural shocks,”
This play lasts a speedy sixty minutes that Ms. Schoonover’s outstanding performance makes fly by. This play is a great example of why actors need to seduce the audience into caring about them. Schoonover does it with great ease and intensity. She tutors us in fundamental probability and statistics. She teaches us how to evaluate the possibility of an occurrence happening, yet as Angela tells us, “It’s all statistics until it’s happening to you.” The audience finally learns the naturally shocking truth, but the journey is the real meaning here.
Director D’Avella is deftly assisted by her design team. Rikki Etter (Lighting Designer), Damien Figueras (Sound Designer), Marie Laster (Scenic and Prop Designer) and Ariel (Liudi) Wang (Costume Designer). They create an outstanding atmospheric playground on which Ms. Schoonover can ply her trade.
Natural Shocks makes one think. It promotes a reflective reevaluation of some of our core beliefs. The show runs until December 22nd at the Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake. For reservations Call 267-437-7529 or go to their web site www.simpaticotheatre.org.
One more thing. As the Holiday season comes upon us, please keep in mind the smaller theaters in Philadelphia. They provide some of the finest productions every season. They don’t require much. Any donation is valuable. Go to the web site of your favorite and help keep Philadelphia a thriving theatrical city.
Photo by Daniel Kontz