Heche may be a talented actor and an amusing media presence in a
five-car-pile-up sort of way, but she's a God-awful writer. At least
that's the point driven home by this unauthorized production of
passages from Heche's 2001 autobiography, Call Me Crazy. As imagined
by creator/director Pamela Ribon and a talented cast of 14, this
production parodies both the awfulness of Heche's book and the pretentiousness
of The Vagina Monologues by forming Heche's ramblings into a series
of increasingly ridiculous monologues. No matter how prepared you
are for the wretchedness of Heche's writing, you'll still wince
that someone published lines like: "I was disgustingly disgusting.
I was grosser than gross." Heche's delusions are interspersed
with interstitials of varying success. The short musical numbers
by Adam Blau and Brently Heilbron are amusing and clever, but some
passages--such as a surreal moment in which the actors toss tampons
into the audience--seem solely designed to kill time.
isn't an Oprah-esque topic Heche doesn't cop to. She's a victim
of sexual abuse. She has a direct pipeline to converse with God.
She wakes up one morning with stigmata on her feet. She can heal
sprained ankles with her hands. The absurdity of her tales is heightened
by impassioned readings from the cast. Highlights include Liz Feldman's
furious phone conversation with Heche's mother and Stephanie Markham's
rendering of Heche's alter ego "Celestia." Future shows
are scheduled to include such celebrity guest monologists as Joan
Van Ark and Mad TV star Alex Borstein.
performers are talented and engaging, and the staging is imaginative.
The main problem with the production comes down to Heche. Her story
is repetitive and self-serving, and the horribleness of the prose
can start to wear thin. It's a Catch-22: The premise of the show
limits the gifted performers to an awful script. The show, which
runs about an hour and 20 minutes, could be shortened by 15 minutes.
It also might seem cruel to some people to mock an individual who
is so clearly disturbed. To those who find the concept a cheap shot,
I would argue that Heche is a narcissist's narcissist and would
probably love the attention. Indeed she should be flattered such
a witty ensemble made her story more entertaining than it deserves
an idea that, depending on your perspective, may seem inspired,
redundant or just plain mean. It's "Call Us Crazy," in
which 14 actresses perform comically overheated readings from the
Anne Heche autobiography "Call Me Crazy."
a handful of pre-holiday performances at the Knitting Factory, the
show has moved to the Hudson Avenue Theatre in Hollywood.
2001 book contains a detailed account of childhood sexual abuse
as well as the actress' now-famous description of her alter ego,
Celestia, in the imaginary "fourth dimension." "I
believe that many people may think I went insane," Heche writes.
"I do not believe I am insane; I believe I went through a period
of my life that was insane and it lasted thirty-one years."
and directed by Pamela Ribon, the unauthorized show carves the book
into themes, which have been shaped into monologues and assigned
to actresses of varying character types. Off-kilter song-and-dance
interludes are thrown in for good measure. The result is a humorous
if less than sensitive evocation of a fragmented personality.
in the book, much of the story emerges out of a climactic phone
call in which Heche confronts her mother about the abuse. With open
copies of the book before them, the actresses sink their teeth into
the already purple prose. Change-ups in pitch and tempo render a
line such as " 'Did you hear me?' I asked calmly" into
a cresting wave of hysteria, followed by the sudden return of even-tempered
section, about Heche's sexual comfort level, veers into the territory
of "The Vagina Monologues," while Heche's sidewalk conversation
with God makes imaginative use of a sock puppet. Happily, one of
the things handled with restraint is Heche's relationship with Ellen
DeGeneres, which is wordlessly rendered in a brief, bittersweet
Charlie Chaplinesque encounter.
The performances are solid, the laughs plentiful. The rest depends
on how you feel about Heche.
a zeal matched in size only by the ego of her subject, writer/director
Pamela Ribon has transformed Anne Heche's autobiography into an
evening of unapologetic hilarity.
performance, billed as an adaptation of readings from Heche's "Call
Me Crazy," is more an all-out assault on the bizarre and often
inept observations of one of Hollywood's nuttier actresses. There
are readings, to be sure, but there are also dramatic reenactments
and ambitious musical numbers. Cynthia Szigeti's performance of
the table of contents alone is worthy of genuine laughter.
virtual cabaret of comedy would of course not work at all if it
were not for the shockingly rich source material. Heche recounts
the more memorable moments of her life from kissing the most
popular guy in town to spending 12 days listening to God teach her
the secret language of messiahs in a prose style completely
devoid of nuance or sophistication.
of the actors in this production take full advantage of the humor
to be had in Heche's often unbelievable ramblings. Stephanie Markham,
swathed in twinkle lights, is particularly effective as both Heche
and her infamous other self, Celestia.
every story in "Call Me Crazy" is a gem; in fact, there
are a few included in this performance which could have easily been
left out. But a show that lasts only 80 minutes is certainly short
enough as it is, and definitely packs enough laughs to make it worthwhile.
Contact Leigh McLeod Fortier (323) 960-7779
The Anne Heche Monologues
Glee will be the least of your emotions!
Begins January 10, 2003
Us Crazy: The Anne Heche Monologues moves
to The Hudson Avenue Theatre
& SATURDAYS 8:00 p.m.
January 10th through Feb 22nd, 2003
& DIRECTED BY Pamela Ribon
PRODUCED BY Ray Prewitt
Angeles, CA) January, 2003 After a sold-out run at the Knitting
Factory, Call Us Crazy: The Anne Heche Monologues
created and directed by Pamela Ribon, and music by
Brently Heilbron and Adam Blau moves to the Hudson
Avenue Theatre with special weekly guests including Alex Borstein,
Jill-Michelle Melean, Megyn Price, Joan Van Ark,
April Winshell, and Andi Teran.
Us Crazy: The Anne Heche Monologues is produced by Ray
Prewitt and presented by dammitray productions in association
with Vanessa Marshall and Hudson Theatricals.
are at the Hudson Avenue Theatre at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd.
Call Us Crazy: The Anne Heche Monologues previews
Friday, Jan 10, opens Saturday, Jan 11 and will run Fridays and
Saturdays at 8pm through Feb. 22nd. Tickets are $15.00 and $5 off
for students, seniors and union members.
information and reservations, call
more info on www.dammitray.com