Theatre: One Woman Gone Wrong – Raucous, Unwieldy, Painfully Real

Emmy-winning TV comedy and film writer, Leslie Caveny (Mad About You, Everybody Loves Raymond, Penelope), writes and headlines an unpredictable, irreverent, sometimes disquieting parody of a one-woman show playing at Theatre West in Noho. 

Caveny plays a fictionalized version of herself mounting a one-woman show, complete with somber monologs and slideshows. But minutes into the show, something unexpected happens: Caveny forgets her lines and so begins an epic 75-minute meltdown in which Caveny lampoons theater, film and television conventions and stereotypes, and tackles personal struggles associated with being a woman over 50 in a culture obsessed with youth.

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(L) Anne Leyden, Sheila Shaw, Seemah Wilsder, Leslie Caveny.  Photo: Garry Kluger

One of the show’s strengths is its unpredictability. The audience never knows if Caveny will ever remember her lines, if Caveny will burst into song, if an “audience member” will storm out of the theater,  or if another “audience member” really is Caveny’s mother.  Throughout, Caveny’s performance is raw and heartbreakingly real. She’s funny, but she’s also selfish, petty and deeply flawed.  When she’s not trying to remember her monolog, she’s tormenting the stage manager and the lighting designer (ably played by Anne Leyden and  Frank Gangarossa) or lobbing accusations at Sheila Shaw and Seemah Wilder, who may or may not be her mother. Maria Burton’s spirited direction and the show’s moving conclusion proves that farce and reality are deeply entwined.

One Woman Gone Wrong plays through November 27 at Theatre West 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, LA, CA 90068 Main Office: (323) 851-4839 Box Office: (323) 851-7977.

— Chiedu Egbuniwe