Fringe Review: ‘SingleMarriedGirl’

Heather as the SingleMarriedGirl

There’s something inexplicable about SingleMarriedGirl now playing at GALA Theatre in the Capital Fringe Festival. On the one hand, we have a young woman who, soon after the lights come up, joyfully and expectantly declares that she will no longer see herself as part of a couple. She will now be dating only herself. I thought: Great! A young woman’s journey of self-discovery–that couldn’t be clearer. What follows, however, despite several interesting stories and many interesting tidbits, is a mishmash of events that leaves the audience befuddled about this woman who fascinates us but whose life-narrative has too many gaps to satisfy our curiosity.

She is both personable and engaging and there are even a few moments of emotional pitch…

Written by Heather Bagnall Scheeler (who also plays the part), SingleMarriedGirl is based on Chicagoan Laurel Spears’ blog by the same name. The play deals with a young woman’s struggles to individuate, first from her alcoholic mother and then from her older boyfriend and later husband. As in a blog, the play offers us short personal vignettes, which in a naturalistic way offer brief windows onto a human life. What the play doesn’t offer is a larger narrative framework to ground these moments of lucidity into a meaningful story. Who is this woman? When did she marry this 26-year old man whom she met when she was 15? When did they get divorced? What exactly is her career of 20 years? Actress? Writer? Undrapped model? The play poses more questions than it allows its audience to answer.

The production design was also a mixed bag. Ms. Scheeler does a nice job as the character of this biographical tale. She is both personable and engaging and there are even a few moments of emotional pitch, to provide a bit of variety; otherwise, her performance needs to find more levels. Ms. Scheeler directed herself in this production, which poses a challenge, particularly given the singular, and intriguing, set piece–a rough-hewn swing and jungle gym in front of a frequently colorful scrim. Such a strong, and peculiar, choice of set demands meaningful interaction, which Ms. Scheeler provides, using the device throughout the show, climbing atop it, sliding down it, and of course swinging on it. These actions, which might have lent the show a kind of playful air of self-discovering, were not performed with any discernible intent, however, which weakened their effect.

The Capital Fringe Festival is the perfect venue for the world premiere of SingleMarriedGirl. Ms. Scheeler has the opportunity to explore the possibilities of a topic that needs more exploration and a process that’s only beginning: providing perceptive narrative to the daily diaries in which more and more people are participating. SingleMarriedGirl plays three more times:

Jul 21st 7:00 PM
Jul 24th 9:45 PM
Jul 28th 6:00 PM

Running Time: 50 minutes.

Advisory: not recommended for kids because of profanity.

For more information click here.

About Robert Michael Oliver

An educator, playwright, theatre artist, and poet, Robert Michael Oliver has lived an eclectic life since moving to Washington 30 years ago after earning his MFA in Directing from Virginia Tech. Co-founder of DC’s Sanctuary Theatre, Michael served as its artistic director through the early 1990s. He then worked at The New School of Northern Virginia as High School Director and Director of its theatre program. Now, with both his children independent, young adults, and after earning his doctorate in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland in 2005, he has recommitted himself to the arts. In 2010 he began the Sanctuary’s Performing Knowledge Project. Its one-man show, “Embodying Poe: Poetry in Performance,” which Michael wrote and performed, premiered at the 2011 Capital Fringe Festival. A long time participant in Washington’s theatre scene, he was delighted to be the Editor, DC Metro area for the Maryland Theatre Guide for a few years.