Jill Donnelly: Amnesia and Attempted Murder in Upstate NY @ The UCBT - 5.6.09
For people who like sad, sappy dramas about comatose patients there's Awakenings. But for those who think it's funny, there's Jill Donnelly's one-woman show "Amnesia and Attempted Murder in Upstate NY." The family and friends of Jane, a hospitalized-amnesiac who has suffered a terrible fall, come together to videotape their greetings and theorize who might be responsible for the victim's bed-ridden state. Donnelly plays every family member, friend, co-worker and neighbor, displaying an impressive range of accents, dialects and mannerisms. Though one should expect nothing less from a woman who began her comedy career after studying neuroscience in college.
In 30 minutes, Donnelly serves up 10 characters and costume changes, a Cockney accent, a cloaked nerd, a hyena laugh, the rambling of a 5-year-old, the advice of a pushy doctor and a plethora of sharp-witted jokes. The credit for the meticulously crafted humor is shared with co-creator and director, Amy Flanagan.
Donnelly's versatile performance even includes soulful a capella (as the no-nonsense co-worker who takes a moment to serenade the victim), melodious piano playing (as the explosive Southern recluse with five first names) and a montage of song parodies on the keyboard.
So whodunnit? The silent husband is a suspect, as is the resentful and jealous sister Karen, who calms herself by slapping her thighs and shouting to the beat. But the victim's son, a college freshman and wizardry enthusiast, speculates that it was an accident, and looks forward to the day she can tell his friends about what it is like to be half-dead. With unexpected laughs and macabre surprises, Amnesia and Attempted Murder serves as smelling salts to even the most unresponsive brain.