Googlewhack, Scarlatina, and a Baghdad T&A Cabaret
Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure
Through Dec 10.
British people are better than us. They're smarter, funnier, less fat, and more drunk. They wear hats, they don't shoot people, and they've never heard of intelligent design. British people grant wishes. They're magic.
Dave Gorman is a British person, known for such high-concept experiments as the book/play/TV series Are You Dave Gorman? (regarding his travels around the globe in search of other Dave Gormans), and BBC2's Dave Gorman's Important Astrology Experiment (in which he followed his horoscope to the letter for 40 days and 40 nights). Gorman's current solo show, Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure, chronicles an all-new batshit-crazy globe-trotting quest: his search for the elusive googlewhack.
If you enter two English words into Google and find only one result, that result—the only website on earth and in heaven containing both of those words—is a googlewhack. It's a surprisingly difficult and addictive undertaking (after an hour of searching, I came up with only two: teleologically porking and dystopic aardwolves, and I'm not even sure that "porking" is a word). Dave Gorman's foray into googlewhackery began when a friend challenged him to come up with 10 consecutive googlewhacks (find a googlewhack, meet that website's proprietor, have him find two more, meet one of those, and so on) by his 32nd birthday. He accepted.
Googlewhack! is corny at times, and a bit contrived, but Gorman's preternatural British charisma and storytelling powers transcend gimmick. Gorman says ridiculously charming things like "preposterous people make for preposterously good company" and offers interesting commentary on our fair nation's prevailing craziness (creationism is "cock of the poppiest variety"). There's something poignant, too—the beauty of coincidence, the smallness of the world, and the sheer pointlessness of the journey. Googlewhack! is the funniest show I've seen all year and Dave Gorman is a magical British comedy elf. Seriously, don't miss it. LINDY WEST
Little Women, Part One
Book-It Repertory Theatre at Center House Theatre
Through Dec 23.
Most people know Little Women as a single novel, but it was originally published in two volumes, and Book-It has adapted just the first part. What this means for the play: Beth doesn't cast her eyes heavenward and delicately expire (thank god)—but don't worry, Hana Lass still tosses and suffers enough to please any sadist or scarlatina fan. Without a sobering death to close the play, the end is painfully sugary. This didn't bother the little girl with glasses and white-blond curls who sat in front of me. The minute the lights came up, she proclaimed Little Women "the best play I ever saw!" Bah. She probably likes candy canes too.
The production (directed by Allison Narver) is actually quite sharp for a Book-It show, thanks to the energy of the largely youthful cast and production staff. As Jo, Rhonda J. Soikowski is a wonderfully gleeful tomboy; Alexandra Tavares as Meg, the oldest March girl, reprises her cusp-of-womanhood role in Three Sisters, with some entertaining flourishes; and a precocious 14-year-old named Caitlin Kinnunen makes a great Amy, all ringlets and rouge and human fallibility. The alternately drab and opulent costumes by Ron Erickson are perfect. And the cozy set and romantic lighting, which also make unmistakable—but not unwelcome—reference to Intiman's Three Sisters, are by recent University of Washington MFA grads Jennifer Zeyl and Jessica Trundy, the dream team in residence at Washington Ensemble Theatre. In fact, the only notable deficiency on stage is Seattle regular Lori Larsen, who's cast against type as Marmee, and comes across as permanently distracted and about as motherly as a sea turtle. ANNIE WAGNER
Thursday Night in Baghdad
Northwest Actors Studio
Through Dec 11.
Marilyn Mayblum is a worldly Western woman. One must question the practical wisdom of any woman—especially a worldly Western one—who would travel to miserable, misogynistic Baghdad during the Iran/Iraq war for any reason whatsoever, let alone to produce a Vegas-style T&A cabaret. But one certainly wouldn't question her daring. Mayblum has indeed lived a daring and impractical life as a dancer and producer, and has collected a bulging pocketful of adventures, especially from her tense and explosive time in Iraq. From these tales, she has woven a one-woman autobiographical monologue. Parts of it are disjointed and blurry and almost instantly forgettable, other parts are funny and have boobs and feathers in them, and one or two moments will haunt me forever, probably... like the rape scene. (If a shy Islamic assistant hotel manager gifts you with a copy of the Koran and invites you to his suite, don't go.)
But Mayblum is not an actress, she is a dancer, and the difference is sometimes vivid. The monologue is more "delivered" than performed, and this flashy, scary, sparkly story with painted women, plumes and spangles, horrible explosions, wiretaps, harrowing scrapes with crazy Iraqi customs officials, and that damn rape scene would be well served with grander production: lighting, sound, a full cast. Mayblum's sweaty, chaotic stories are worth telling, and worth hearing, but they need much more than mere Mayblum telling it like it was, retrospective style, to bring them to life. ADRIAN RYAN