By MAC HOOVER
A tiny little theater in Carnegie has consistently put out quality small shows. It is aptly called Carnegie Stage and has been the home of off the WALL productions since 2012, although the company started in ’07 in Washington, PA. We had the pleasure of catching the company’s last production in Pittsburgh before it takes its work elsewhere. It’s a shame that the theater community here in western PA doesn’t have enough patrons to support all the venues and productions available.
We caught Laura Irene Young‘s autobiographical show, When Jesus Divorced Me, on its way to NYC this November.
Allison Weakland directs Young’s a cleverly poignant, one-woman show. The actress and writer lays her journey out for us with all its warts and pain. We witness her travels from high school musicals to summer stock with a foray into Christian proselytizing theater. Her long-distance boyfriend proposed to her on stage – in public. She shared the video with us, her audience, but carefully protected his identity. While the marriage was brief, the recovery was very, very prolonged.
Ms.Young has a quirky persona that is endearing without the psychotic edge of Rachel Bloom in My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She is sad without being pathetic. Young mourns the loss of the marriage and the grief of lost expectations. She takes us on her adventure and can make us dislike her ex without trashing him.
This cathartic expedition of self-doubt and self-discovery is touching and quiet, much like the ukulele that serves as a good portion of her accompaniment. She segues into using a keyboard for some of the supplemental tunes. She shared a map of where she’d traveled that highlighted her vagabond experiences as she tried to make sense of her divorce. She admitted her relationships with things that didn’t serve her well until she found professional guidance.
The venue was cozy, and the set and projections , designed by Natalia Rose Mabry, is comprised mainly of a video screen used skillfully to portray testimony to the narrative. The sound design by Shannon Knapp was spot on within the limited space, carefully crafted, and timed to the story. Young’s choice of a ukulele was also quietly touching, lending a whimsical quality to the storytelling.
While Young’s brief marriage was a monumental occurrence in her life, she still leaves us all with hope and a positive note to look within ourselves.
I will be sorry that off the WALL will no longer have a presence here. But I am glad that Jesus divorced Laura. She can do better, and I appreciated sharing the experience with her.
TICKETS AND DETAILS
View the playbill at https://www.insideoffthewall.com/playbills
Remaining performances in Pittsburgh are October 19, 20, 21, 2023 at 8 p.m. For tickets visit: https://www.ticketor.com/carnegiestage/tickets/when-jesus-divorced-me-255592#buy
Categories: Arts and Ideas