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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Synchronicity shares in PushPush's 'Humiliating Stories'

Shelby Hofer
Like gluttons for punishment, Synchronicity Theatre teams with PushPush Theater to present a re-mount of the latter company's uproarious one-woman show, 101 Humiliating Stories. Playing Mondays-Wednesdays as part of Synchronicity's current repertory (with The Brand New Kid and Exit, Pursued by a Bear), 101 Humiliating Stories first played at PushPush in December of 2009, and has been remounted several times since. Here's what I said about the original production, which made my Top 10 of 2009 list, my Top 50 of the 2000s list and, like the remount, stars Shelby Hofer:


101 Humiliating Stories
began as an autobiographical monologue by "Lesbian Brother" Lisa Kron, but PushPush co-founder Shelby Hofer performs the piece at the Decatur playhouse. It begins like a Spalding Gray-type monologue of comically shameful memories and experiences, many involving middle school, "geeky celebrity encounters," and mishaps with her personal appearance. She also wrestles with whether she should "out" herself at her high school reunion, and envisions how a closeted speech and an unnecessarily confrontational one could be equally disastrous.

The play itself, however, also turns out to be a humiliation for the actress. She loses her place, takes distracting cell-phone calls, interrupts herself and assures the audience that the emotions won't get too raw. Overall, she comes across as uproariously ill-prepared, with an intentional self-consciousness reminiscent of Ellen DeGeneres' early stand-up. Hofer and director Lawrence Keller work wonderfully well together: Hofer can sustain a pause for hilarious lengths to let the visual images or embarrassing implications sink in. 101 Humiliating Stories may be the most purely entertaining show I've ever seen at PushPush — and at 67 minutes, would make a great part of a "ladies night out."

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