Bay Area Theater Review: LOVELAND (Ann Randolph at The Marsh, Berkeley)

by Tony Frankel on November 22, 2010

in Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area

Post image for Bay Area Theater Review: LOVELAND (Ann Randolph at The Marsh, Berkeley)

FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS

Loveland is the solo show that should be the template for all one-person show wannabes. Ann Randolph incorporates creative writing, broad but truthful characters, zaniness balanced with compelling dramatic moments, and, above all, an undeniably convincing story. In fact, you will be wondering if the tale of a woman who is flying from Los Angeles to Loveland, Ohio with the cremated remains of her mother is true (no, Miss Randolph’s mother is alive and well, thank you).

Frannie Potts. She would most likely be voted the person one would not want to sit next to on a plane – she’s not only hyper-sexed, vulgar, and inappropriate, but bursts forth opinions in such an irreverent way that you would hope there is a medication for people like her. What makes her so lovable is that we share her beliefs – especially true for me are her rants on people who hang out watching nature films at a visitor center instead of actually going outside. When Frannie utters another truism, “Supervisors are always in a meeting when you need them,” the audience collectively nodded.

While on board, she interacts with other passengers and reenacts reminiscences for us, such as her mother’s admission into a senior home where Mozart’s Requiem Mass is the hold music on the phone. When Randolph adroitly shifts from Frannie to her cigarette-smoking mother to the passive-aggressive administrator and back again, we have to blink twice to reassure ourselves that only one person is on stage.

What makes Loveland über-special is the surprising way that Frannie, an awkward performance artist who performs facial gestures to sounds, manages to elicit empathy from her fellow passengers even as she has an orgasm listening to the soothing voice of the pilot. Like the passengers, we watch her outlandish shenanigans, and discover that our own memories of dealing with death are evoked; there is a palpable commonality of love in the house.

Loveland, directed flawlessly by Matt Roth, was developed at the Marsh (where it just keeps getting extended) and also recently played in L.A. (where Randolph previously cut her teeth with The Groundlings).  Hopefully, all of that time Randolph spent flying back and forth will be grist for another mill.

photos by Leland Auslender

Loveland
ends on November 25, 2010 EXTENDED to December 11, 2010
encore performances continue: April 22 – June 17, 2017 in San Francisco
Saturdays at 5pm
for more encore performances
for tickets, visit The Marsh or Loveland

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