The only problem with Lauren Weedman shows is that they're too short. (How often do you hear that complaint about autobiographical solo theater?)
A series of wincingly funny anecdotes from Weedman's recent past, No... You Shut Up covers harrowing ground: a childhood lie that sends a friend back into the foster-care system, a memorial service for her ex-husband's sister who died of cancer, her ex-husband flirting with a dippy massage therapist at said memorial by talking about his colon problems ("Swear to God—blood in the stool is like a mating call for yoga people"), a painfully awkward interview at an adoption agency, a tragic session at a tattoo parlor.
Weedman's past work has also trawled through her most embarrassing moments—by using herself as the punching bag, Weedman can inflict maximum damage without having to worry about other people's feelings. As a result, she has become a poet of excruciatingly funny self-loathing. "How and when should a child be told he's adopted?" a lady at the adoption agency asks during her screening interview. "Every five minutes and loudly," Weedman replies. "Go out and play—YOU'RE ADOPTED!" The lady at the agency does not find this funny.
In the four years since Seattle has last seen her (in Bust, a show about volunteering at a women's prison because it's "the only place where I have a shot at being the prettiest girl in the room"), Weedman has only strengthened her gift for characterization. In a blond ponytail and blue button-up shirt, she can transform from the dippy, narcotic-voiced massage therapist ("The rectum is like a storehouse for unresolved emotions") to a childhood friend who has grown into a cold, professional powerhouse and resentful mother ("The serpent draws blood along with milk"). While playing a nervous, squeak-voiced tattoo artist, Weedman's body collapses in on itself until she seems half her usual size. "Circles are really hard," she whispers in response to Weedman's idea for the tattoo. "But I really wanna try this, and do you know why? Because it scares the shit out of me."
The tattoo, we know, is not going to turn out well. But few things ever do in Weedman's shows. Too bad for her—but lucky us.