Bust: A Review




Busted: Lauren Weedman knows the feeling all too well. In her solo show, playing a limited engagement this weekend at the Cleveland Play House’s New Ground Festival, that feeling reverberates throughout a hilarious and affecting 100 minutes.

Weedman’s tale is set around two seemingly unrelated autobiographical stories: her work as a volunteer advocate in a Southern California women’s prison, and her experience of writing a Glamour magazine story about fabricating a rape claim as a college co-ed.

It’s easy for an audience to relate to the busted feelings and the experiences Weedman shares via 20-plus characters: showing up late for an important appointment and being called out for it; revealing too much information when it’s not appropriate; dealing with a situation that you signed up for that quickly spins out of control; trying to help another human being, and seeing that plan go to pot; and making up a huge lie and getting caught — the consequences of which reverberate for a long time.

Weedman amazes in this solo-performance-style storytelling. Going back and forth between the characters (some of whom we only experience for seconds), and concentrating on six main women for whom we feel compassion, she displays an unassuming knack for the acting craft. One understands why we may not have noticed the actress from her TV and film roles: She grounds her characters in humanity and humor, quickly establishing a specific physicality to each one. The actress effectively hides inside her creations, letting them do the work. (Go back and find her work online on The Daily Show or on HBO's Hung, and you’ll get a good taste of this.)

As a writer and performer, Weedman is a gifted comedian, having honed jokes and timing in several prior autobiographical plays and solo performances, essays, TV shows like Reno 911, and the recent big-screen release, The Five-Year Engagement.

When one gets caught for something horrendous — say a crime, or lying about rape — people naturally assume the worst about the perpetrator. Weedman brings to light what it feels like to be the accused: the wall people face in trying to tell their side of the story; the need to be heard, understood, and survive; and the “busted” feeling that they have no power, and that the story is out of their hands. Those are feelings to which we all can relate.

This Cleveland Play House presentation is a fresh, funny, sobering experience. With only two more performances — tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. — act fast before your chance to see it goes bust, too.

Find tickets and details here. — Dan Kilbane

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