by Geraldine Aron
Directed by Michael Donald Edwards
Starring Mary Testa
Asolo Repertory Company
Florida State U. Center for the Performing ArtsÕ Mertz Theatre
5555 N. Tamiami Tr., Sarasota
June 25 through July 14, 2013

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker

It seems to have started out as a one-person autobiographical drama but somewhere on the way to Asolo RepÕs mainstage itÕs become a long nightclub comedy act. Luckily, the comedienne  Mary Testa is brilliant, responding to Michael Donald EdwardsÕ polished direction as if the character Angela  isnÕt bleak. If itÕs true, as Edwards has said, that audiences in Sarasota will identify with herÑwell, a lot of us are in trouble. Angela  not only goes in angst through a midlife crisis; she ends it by succumbing to the same need she had for the husband who left her.  WeÕre left to hope she wonÕt again be at the mercy of a philanderer, both self-serving and selfish. (TestaÕs Angela  leads us to detest him, not necessarily to love her but to sympathize with her as a victim.)

Playwright Geraldine Aron, native Irish but living in London, agreed  to remake Angela to fit Mary TestaÕs talents. Aligning  the ÒplayÓ with Asolo RepÕs multi-year exploration of the American character makes the heroine American  (though her phone calls to her mother, who supposedly has returned from England to living in her native Ireland donÕt fit in well with the adaptation). Testa portrays the doctor whom hypochondriac Angela keeps busy, her unsympathetic lawyer, a therapist, even the dreadful exÑmostly vocally but also by gestures or stance. With the help of Aaron RhyneÕs wonderful projections, she goes through holidays (via fireworks) and birthdays with various kinds of weather (terrific rain and falling snow). Her only seen companion is her cutsey (motorized) terrier Dexter, who soon calls to mind Samuel JohnsonÕs disdain for stage animals. (By mid Act II, one longed to render its control really remote.) 

There are some moments of genuine, memorable humor. After AngelaÕs visit to a sex-toy shop comes the best. It precedes a needed intermission that breaks up 90 minutes of monologue  that Testa, much more than Angela, keeps from being a waste of time.

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