The first thing that struck me about this compact, yet ambitious solo performance show was how nicely it teeters on the edge between camp and sincerity. Writer and performer Leigh Hendrix moves between characters effortlessly. An intense motivational speaker, an awkwardly wavering performance artist and an earnest young lesbian, coming to terms with coming out – all characters who demand, one way or another, for an audience to take them seriously.
Now, I have seen a lot of shows completely crumble under that kind of premise, because it’s incredibly hard to walk that line between over-the-top and some kind of statement about something as complicated as sexual identity without ultimately taking yourself too seriously. I’ve seen productions with great potential wilt under the weight of attempting to be clever.
Not this one. This one just really works. And it’s genuinely funny.
I think what makes is so enjoyable is a kind of straightforwardness and clarity, brought by a solid script that never gets too heavy, but manages to be relatable and compelling anyway. Great direction (Peter Deffet) also goes a long way by adding a bit of a wink and a nod to the humor already in the script. The audience is invited in on the joke and led by the blocking, in the way her characters address and approach the audience and her physicality.
The Artists’ Exchange is a great venue for this – cozy little black box, but with excellent seating. It is intimate without being uncomfortable. Leigh Hendrix uses the space really well. Her movement keeps the pace of the show quite nicely. And I think this was one of the only times in recent history when I didn’t absolutely cringe when a performer came into the audience.
When the show ends, you’ve laughed a lot, but hopefully also noticed more than a few questions that are neatly tucked into the performance. The imprint of them lingers on you when you leave. If you identify as a queer woman, you might find yourself benchmarking your own experiences and identity markers against her lesbian characters and playful stereotypes and finding a lot of familiarity there. If you aren’t, I imagine this show will certainly have you contemplating your perceptions of what queer female sexuality looks and acts like.
(In case you are wondering, that list at the end? The one with everything you need to know in order to be a lesbian? Completely true.)