When I wandered into the Kranzberg Arts Center Studio Theatre on Sunday, August 20 to review Inconceivable! And Other Absurdities, I knew I would see something zany. I had a little, albeit not a lot, of previous experience with Fringe Festival shows, and I tried to make an educated guess of what I was to witness from the title. Other than this, I had no idea what to expect.
I was surprised. Pleasantly, I might add.
Inconceivable! And Other Absurdities was, unbeknownst to me in advance, my first-ever viewed one-woman show. And it was brilliant.
Danielle Mari stars in this show, which she wrote herself. It is based upon a very dark period in her life. Just over an hour long, this show takes the audience on a hilarious journey through her trials and tribulations, while not forgetting to prick at the heart strings in all the appropriate places.
What I found most admirable about Mari’s performance was her remarkable stamina. Through sweat–and possibly even some real tears, at times–she carried the weight of her own zany character, plus various characters in the medical profession. She was surrounded by a myriad of props throughout the show. Sometimes these props seemed confusing at first, but once Mari did her thing, it was all justified well in its use.
Mari’s writing is exquisite and is really the gem of this show. She has such a natural way with humor; always pushing the envelope towards the inappropriate, but reeling the audience back into their comfort zone at just the last minute. Her words are biting and unapologetic, and although the conflict that her character endures may not be easy to empathize with unless one is a female or of the child-bearing years, she makes her audience feel almost like students learning from the master in the School of Emotion. A favorite line from the performance: “You know how in textbooks the female reproductive system looks like an elegant chalice? Mine is a Picasso.”
There were points in the show in which a recording of various annoying voices could be heard. This would happen in sequences in which Mari’s character was overwhelmed by the gravity of her situation and the pressures from the people around her. I didn’t like this the first time around; I thought that her narration was much stronger, but it seemed to make much more sense after two or three times.
There were a few times in which Mari broke the fourth wall, asking questions of the audience as if they are listening in a hospital waiting room with her. Her confidence in her performance is clear. She maintains control of her audience well, and at no time during her performance can I recall drifting off into my own thoughts. (Rare for me.)
The final scene, in which Mari’s character has a desperate heart-to-heart with a statue of the Mother Mary in a church, displayed the range of her acting abilities. She seemed in her element most with physical comedy, but this final scene was beautiful and painful, and still, Mari manages to make the audience smile. Never have I wanted so much to applaud and hug an actor during their performance.
Unfortunately, today was Mari’s last performance at the Fringe Festival. She will be heading back to Ohio. However, Inconceivable! And Other Absurdities has a Facebook page that can be followed for notifications on upcoming performances. If you find yourself in Ohio, I strongly suggest you devote an hour of your life to this show. Mari has given birth to a hit!