Shear’s one-act, one-woman, 90-minute thrill ride offers plenty of laughs in this Backstage at the Players production.
Before making it big as a playwright, Claudia Shear worked some 64 odd jobs. “Odd” is putting it mildly. She distilled her experience in “Blown Sideways Through Life.” Her one-woman theatrical resume is now unfolding in the The Players Centre for Performing Arts’s latest Backstage at the Players performance.
To give you some idea: After running away from an unhappy home in Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood, Shear earned her daily bread as: an actress (portraying Mrs. Rip Van Winkle in a parade); an artist’s nude model; a toilet scrubber; a brothel receptionist; a prep cook (wrangling disgusting globs of processed turkey meat) at an upscale Madison Avenue catering outfit; a waitress (at several restaurants); a proofreader; a real estate salesperson; a makeup artist; a cook; a Fire Island pastry chef; a Wall Street proofreader; a real secretary; a fake secretary in a grifter’s fake office; an extra in an exceedingly bad Italian movie; and an Italian translator. Shear quits a few of these jobs. She gets fired from most of them.
Shear is a volatile character. Based on her monolog, she can put up with crap from volatile bosses for only so long. Her bad attitude makes for great, and sometimes poignant, comedy. Shear’s brutally honest with her struggles with weight, and at one point says, “I’m literally a misfit. Nothing fits!” You laugh — but you feel for her.
Under Pam Wiley’s snappy direction, Carrie McQueen delivers a spirited, R-rated, syncopated and rapid-fire performance. Shear’s jazzy language owes a debt to Jack Kerouac and other beat writers. The resulting monologue is a dangerously funny and seriously twisted roller coaster ride, which constantly veers off in surprising twists and turns. It’s hilarious if you’re sitting in audience — and demanding to the performer on stage. McQueen is definitely qualified for this job.
Shear’s one-act, one-woman, 90-minute thrill ride offers plenty of laughs, a sharply drawn, warts-and-all characterization and an equally sharp critique of the bottom rungs of the employment ladder. In the world of Claudia Shear, work is often a four-letter word. (It’s not the only one.) Shear has nothing against capitalism, though. Her beef is with bad manners. The takeaway?
“You talk to the people who work for you the same way you talk to the people you work for.''
Works for me.
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