Saturday, August 8, 2009

Search for signs of intelligent life: success!

The search for signs of intelligent life in the universe came to a successful conclusion Thursday evening in the basement of a noodle house on Seattle's Capitol Hill. The basement is home to Balagan Theatre, and the intelligent -- nay, brilliant! -- life is the company's 2009-10 season opener, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe by Jane Wagner, directed by Lisa Confehr and performed by Terri Weagant.

My Sweetie, the official scorer, opines that Signs is not necessarily the sort of play she likes to go see. The subject matter is, after all, marriage ending in divorce leading to mental illness. But that doesn't bug me so much, and really the play is about the mad skills of the actress. Lily Tomlin made the play famous, and Weagant is fantastic in the role of Trudy the bag lady and all the other characters she encounters.

Weagant plays seven or eight characters an absolutely nails every one of them. Most incredibly, the transitions between the characters are utterly seamless. We've seen a number of one-woman plays, most notably by Anna Deveare Smith, who notes changes in character with the help of a different scarf or a hat or some other physical prop. Weagant needs no such crutch, going from character to character solely on the strength of the portrayals -- posture, voice, and attitude are her props, and it's always crystal clear which character is on stage. The switches are signaled just by the change -- and a gust of cosmic wind.

The star is an engineer, too. Weagant built the bag-lady-mobile, which is a sight to be seen as the main prop in the show.

This is your chance to see one of Seattle's up-and-coming talents up-close and personal. In December the PI singled out Weagant as one of four to watch, and I'll second that; she's mesmerizing and amazing. Check out an interview of Weagant in the August issue of the Theatre Puget Sound monthly newsletter. Don't miss The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, running through Aug. 29 at Balagan. Season tickets to Balagan are a bargain: 10 shows for just $120. Single show ducats are also on sale.

Full disclosure: Weisenheimer is president of the board at Balagan. But it doesn't mean I'm biased!

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