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Looking for Normal
a Drama
by Jane Anderson

COMPANY : The Process Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Onstage Atlanta on Ponce [WEBSITE]
ID# 4788

SHOWING : September 18, 2015 - October 10, 2015



Roy and Irma have been married for twenty-five years. They have two children. They live in the heartland. They’re respected members of their church and their community. When Roy and Irma go to their pastor for marriage counseling, Roy confesses that he’s a woman trapped in a man’s body and would like to have a sex change. The play explores the complexities of marriage, family and deconstructs the very notion of love.

Director Barbara Cole Uterhardt
Em Dianne Butler
Patty Ann Alyssa Caputo
Roy Larry Davis
Frank Davin Allen Grindstaff
Irma Kristin R. Kalbli
Grandma Ruth Jennifer Lee
Wayne Evan McLean
Reverend Muncie Bob Smith
Roy Sr. Barry N. West
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The Earnestness of Being Important
by playgoer
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
"Looking for Normal" has an up-to-the-minute feel, with Bruce Jenner’s recent transformation to Caitlyn Jenner so prominently in the news. In this play, Roy decides to transition from a man, married for 26 years and the father of two children, into the woman he feels he has always been internally. Not unexpectedly, his wife and children have a hard time coping with this, and his mother doesn’t even inform his redneck father.

Roy isn’t attracted to men; he loves his wife and wants to stay with her. But he is surrounded by sexual dysfunction – a grandmother who abandoned Roy’s father to run off to France and live a bisexually hedonistic life; a 13-year-old daughter who would rather be a boy; and an impotent 22-year-old son. These three characters interrupt the action from time to time with monologues, the children giving slide shows of sexual instruction and the (dead) grandmother reminiscing about her life experiences. This lays things on a bit thick, with the intended resonances to Roy’s life not really working. Roy is a decent, reserved fellow. The total lack of sensationalism in his journey has been goosed up with sensational details about these other characters. It doesn’t feel cohesive.

The actors generally do good jobs, even the woefully miscast Barry N. West. The casting overall is a little weird, with amazonian Kristin Kalbli towering over her romantic counterparts and Alyssa Caputo coming on awfully strong as a 13-year-old. Bob Smith as a reverend and Dianne Cusack Butler as Roy’s mother are cast well, and director Barbara Cole Uterhardt has blocked the action so that it flows well and allows everyone to be seen and heard (although projection by Larry Davis and Alyssa Caputo is a bit excessive compared to the rest of the cast).

Morgan McCrary Brooks’ set design nicely combines a bedroom stage left and a dining/living room stage right with a screen upstage that starts out as cloudy sky blue and subsequently is used for William Thurmond’s projections. Elisabeth Cooper’s light design helps move the action along, and Nancye Quarles-Hilley’s costumes are fine, although George Deavours’ wig for Kristin Kalbli looks wiggy. Dan Bauman’s sound design is perfectly fine too. Christen Orr’s fight choreography, however, isn’t very convincing, at least from my seat at audience right.

All in all, Jane Anderson’s "Looking for Normal" is a very earnest attempt to examine the issue of gender dysphoria. It gives off the subtle scent of educational theatre, while containing four-letter profanity. It captures a moment in the national conversation concerning sexual reassignment, shedding a little light with only a modicum of entertainment value. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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