Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Greetings from Hollywood"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

entire contents copyright 1997 by Larry Stark

"Greetings from Hollywood"

by Cindi Freeman with Ellen Groves
Directed by Ellen Groves

Set Design by Cindi Freeman, Dick Freeman, Ellen Groves & Kristina Atkins
Lighting Designed by Ellen Groves
Costumes by Cindi Freeman & Ellen Groves
Artwork by Dick Freeman
Stage Manager Hope Moore

Cindi Freeman's one-woman show "Greetings from Hollywood" is as sleekly svelt in writing and performance as her cheekboned face and perfect body, without a gram of fat anywhere. Well, maybe a gram. Maybe a gram and a half.

The show consists of three interrelated dramatic monologs that could be an audio novel told by an aspiring actress whose biggest career move was a nudie porno tele-flic and whose life and loves never do run smooth. All three, taking the audience onto the sound-stage and into the psyche are so effortlessly and honestly told they have the ring of personal experience recounted in intimate one-on-one conversation.

The illusion of conversation almost obscures the excellent dramatic stagecraft with which Freeman creates entire characters by imitating accent, inflection, posture and facial expression --- all in a single two-word sentence. Her long arms are in continual, spontaneous motion framing and shaping her words with subliminal additions, though she moves about onstage very little. In the high-raked Little Flags space that can cram about 65 people into a 60-seat house, everyone gets the feeling they are the one person being talked to.

The first monolog is told as though she is at a party watching her current lover come on to another woman. The second recounts the tawdry truths and peculiar personalities involved in shooting (for four hours) a two-minute nude love-scene. The third centers on the suicide of a friend known all too briefly from a therapy-group that she thought would help her deal with that lover and that nude scene.

Oddly enough, none of this material is played either for tittilation, or for laughs. Freeman's delivery elicits smiles of recognition and shared awareness instead of bawdy guffaws, and she finishes up as a witty, intelligent, insightful woman of considerably interesting experience and self-awareness that any audience will feel it a pleasure to get to know.

And then there's that gram of flab: "Inside Cherry Pitz".

This is an old stand-up comedy routine wherein Freeman, in a backless silver lame halter-sheathe sprayed onto her gorgeous curves, dons a platinum Carol-Channing wig and does a tawdry parody of Marilyn Monroe as different in word and deed as the dress is from the black body-sheathe she must strip for this routine. All that's missing is the rim-shots.

And as for that half-gram: The first three monologs are introduced with readings from '70s sleazy paperbacks, starting with an egregiously over-acted paragraph from Jacqueline Suzanne's artless confection "The Valley of The Dolls". These add nothing to an excellent show, and Director Ellen Groves should have had the good sense to rip them out of the performance. Cindi Freeman needs no help from writers far less accomplished than herself.

( a k a larry stark)

"Greetings from Hollywood" (till 26 July)
Little Flags Theatre, 550 Massachusetts Avenue, CAMBRIDGE

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide