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Loveland at Arena Stage

Jordan Wright
March 23, 2014
Special to The Alexandria Times
 

Ann Randolph in Loveland at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Ann Randolph in Loveland at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Welcome to the wonderfully wacky world of Frannie Potts.  You’ll meet her in Loveland at Arena Stage as part of the Kogod Cradle Series for American Voices.

Frannie is a “thought bubble” come to life, a woman who actually verbalizes the socially unacceptable things we think but are conditioned by society not to say out loud.  Her ADHD is cringe-worthy.  She’s the crazy lady with no filter – – the one shouting out her philosophy of the world to strangers – – the one we dismiss.  In writer/performer Ann Randolph’s Loveland we enter the world of Frannie Potts in her hilarious one-woman show.

On a stage set with a single chair and a shopping bag containing a few props, we find Frannie seated on a plane on her way from LA to the Midwest for her mother’s funeral.  In Frannie’s world “dead” is dead – not “passed away” or “gone”.  She brooks no euphemisms and no platitudes, and we love her all the more for it.

In a series of flashback portrayals, Randolph takes on the identities of a number of characters, not least of all her irreverent chain-smoking mother, a wisecracking pistol of a woman who delights in egging her daughter on.

Randolph also channels the pilot, whom she fantasizes about; a stereotypically snooty flight attendant; her seatmates, who are none to pleased to listen to her ramblings; a condescending funeral home saleswoman; a smarmy nursing home administrator; and a sanctimonious yoga instructor named Shanti.  None are spared Frannie’s sharp-tongued, sharp-eyed, invariably outraged, retorts.  If you’ve ever enjoyed the screwball humor of Erma Bombeck, Ruth Buzzi or Lily Tomlin, the satirical black humor of British comedies like The Wrong Box or The Loved One, or the wry wit of Fran Lebowitz, Loveland is certain to rattle all your funny bones.

In one of the skits Frannie tries frantically to reach her mother at the Crane Lake Country Manor, a nursing home with, you guessed it, no cranes and no lakes.  The irony of it all is compounded when she is subjected to the “on hold” strains of Mozart’s Requiem Mass for the Dead.

Randolph has created Frannie, a hugely sympathetic character, with depth and dimension, and she does it with floor-dropping humor.

Highly recommended.

Through April 2nd at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St., SE, Washington, DC 20024.  For tickets and information on performance times and dates call 202 488-3300 or visit www.ArenaStage.org.

Ann Randolph in Loveland at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Ann Randolph in Loveland at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Photo by Teresa Wood.

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