-- which opened last night at the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse -- is a kinetic, frenzied play where the audience is sucked into the mind of a struggling writer while she trudges through the emotional baggage of her personal life, her relationship with her family, and her struggling career all while trying to plod through a stubborn case of writer's block as she pens a eulogy for her dead grandmother.
Outrageously exhaustive plot synopsis! And that's only the tip of the crazy.
So My Grandmother Died is a fast paced comedy with dabs of poignancy mixed in with the occasional musical number and a beat nick poem or two. In other words, it's totally a Mad Cat production. Which is to say, it gets all up in your face, and in your pants and under your skin (figuratively speaking, of course).
Polly (Melissa Almaguer) is a struggling comedy writer who's flown to Hollywood, Florida from Hollywood, California, to attend her grandmother's funeral and write the eulogy. As she opens her laptop to begin writing, the audience becomes Alice in Polly's Wonderland of imagination. Her subconscious is our guide into a world of lost love, Wikipedia entries and the quest to unload emotional baggage by the shitload.
Polly's mind is a whirling, harried minefield of voices and personalities that come from her own personal Greek Chorus, a trio of "deconstructionists" named Troy, Anne and Ricky. Those voices that talk to you in your head? They're actually people dressed in 19th century garb! Oh, and a smart ass pirate.
Through the Chorus, who hilariously morph from one personality to another, the audience is fed a healthy dose of information about an eclectic array of subjects from Silvia Plath to Ezra Pound to an obscure GI Joe character named Barbecue. Polly sifts through her mental encyclopedia (most of which she has acquired via her use of the Internet -- she is a 21st Century girl, after all) as she tries to overcome mental and emotional hurdles.
The knowledge bombs dropped on the audience are a clever device, making the play a sort of organic Wikipedia page. It serves as a tool to help Polly find the answer to the grandest question of them all: "What does it all mean?"
Writer/director Paul Tei, who wrote the play based on his own experiences, wanted to explore the impact the Internet has on our lives. His aim was to reveal how communication has been stifled. And he channels our very real struggles with pain, loss, family, love and resolve through Polly's undaunted imagination.
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Like shows that are an amalgam of sharp witty comedy, textually dense psychodrama, trippy quests of intellectual expression, philosophical meanderings, and comedic kitsch with some existentialism thrown in for good measure? Oh, is So My Grandmother Died the show for you.
Look for the extended review of So My Grandmother Died, Blah, Blah, Blah in this week's issue.
Mad Cat's So My Grandmother Died, Blah, Blah, Blah runs thru September 10 at the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse (404 NW 26th St., Miami). Shows start at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $25 ($12 for students with ID). Call 866-811-4111 or visit madcattheatre.org