Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Review of Megan Gogerty Loves You Very Much

Riverside - Megan Gogerty Loves You Very Much is the one woman show of Megan’s coming-of-age story, a journey that takes her from Texas to California, back home to Iowa to illustrate, as she teases us in the first scene, “How Hillary Clinton got me pregnant.”

Megan Gogerty is a delightful actress and personality, and fortunately so, since it is only herself onstage for the two hours of the show. I have to admit to a bias: I have been a distant fan of Megan Gogerty’s since the early 1990s, when I was lucky enough to have witnessed some of her work at No Shame Theater. When I heard that this show needed reviewing, I jumped at the chance to revisit Megan and see if my memory of her would be tarnished or reinforced. I was happy to see that she is the same warm, personable character I remember from those bygone days. It’s difficult to gauge where the person ends and the character begins, if in fact there is any difference between the two. She portrays herself as timid throughout the course of the play, although the play’s very existence seems to expose the lie: people who lack tenacity don’t tend to mount their own one-woman shows. To accent the character she folds herself up into a self-deprecating pose perhaps a few too many times before becoming a bold “Red Sonja” figure in the final act.

This is the perfect play for Riverside. Iowans love to hear stories of prodigal daughters coming home, especially when those daughters gently chide us about our unfailing politeness, even in the face of jackassery. And nowhere else could I imagine the three words “And Chuck Grassley” receiving such a laugh.

This is a decidedly blue play. Not in the sense of profanity—the aforementioned word “jackass” is about as profane as Megan gets—but rather in the sense of Blue as the alternate to Red. Ms. Gogerty is a Democrat from the cradle, born to a mother who traveled halfway across the world to work in the Peace Corps at JFK’s mere suggestion. I suspect there must be some Republicans who attend theater in Iowa City, if there are in fact any Republicans in Iowa City at all. They will not necessarily feel ostracized by Megan; after all, Democrats are the “let’s all just get along” party, but they need to be prepared to hear the old saws about Bush’s incompetency reiterated fiercely.

Ron Clark’s deft directing makes excellent use of the sparsely populated stage. A chair, a whatnot shelf, and a pillow are the only props. The pillow is used in many unique ways—it’s a pillow in some scenes, in others a baby, and believable in any instance.

Subtle lighting changes allow her to step out of scene to explain a point of order; to tell us how it is she got this way, or to remind us of a factoid we may have forgotten.

Megan navigates the territory of motherhood with warmth but without sappy oversentimentality; when a moment threatens to get too Hallmark-ish, she brings the house down with a well-timed laugh.

If one is unable to attend the show in person, or if one enjoyed it so much that they would like to hear it again and again, a CD of the play is available for sale in Riverside’s lobby, but I strongly encourage readers of this blog to see the show. The sold-out crowd laughed often and heartily, and rewarded its author with a standing ovation. The outstanding physical affectations and spot-on Hillary Clinton impression are a sight best beheld in person. This is an artist we should support, even if it means she gets so brave that she leaves Iowa again for California’s rosier opportunities.

--Sharon Falduto

Sharon Falduto has been involved with theatre for many years. Notable roles include Corrie in Barefoot in the Park with Dreamwell and Myra in Hay Fever with ICCT. She has directed God for the now defunct student group, West Side Players, and Of Mice and Men for Dreamwell. She is currently out of the theatre scene, as she is busy directing the lives of Rachel, Samantha, and Piper at her home in Coralville. She still enjoys the stage, however, and hopes to trod the boards again in the future.

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