Why We Have a Body not attracting an audience at Magic

(Right upper) Lorri Holt as Eleanor. (Right lower)Lauren English & Rebecca Dines as Lili & Renee, (Below left) Maggie Mason as Mary in Why We Have a Body playing at the Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, San Francisco Photos by Jennifer Reiley.

WHY WE HAVE A BODY by Claire Chafee, directed by Katie Pearl/Jessica Holt. Magic Theatre, , Building D, Fort Mason Center, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94123. 415-441-8822 or www.magictheatre.org August 31 – October 2, 2011-09-11.

Magic Theatre in San Francisco has started their 45th season with a revival of Why We Have a Body by Claire Chafee that graced their stage in 1993 and was a smash hit or so they tell us in the PR info sheet. It is understandable that they would select a play that might replenish their coffers if, and that is a big “if” it were successful. The Sunday matinee attracted only 19 people other than me suggesting they have made a financial blunder even though it is an artistic gem.

There are only 4 actors, Lauren English, Rebecca Dines, Lorri Holt and Maggie Mason who represent the who’s who in Bay area theatre. The construction of the play is disjointed amounting to a series of monologs interspersed between a few very dramatic interludes. If there is a protagonist it would be Lauren English in the role of Lili, a lesbian private eye who specializes in tracking down wayward husbands while she herself is searching for an ideal mate.

That ideal mate turns out to be the married Renee (Rebecca Dines) a ), a paleontologist- or that could be a neurophysicist searching for her true sexual identity. The extended embrace scene between English and Dines is the stuff that would whet a voyeur’s desires. It was so real as to be embarrassing.

Mary (Maggie Mason) is Lili’s younger sister. Mary thrives on holding up 7-eleven stores and that keeps her in and out of jail. When free, or is it after she has escaped, she works directing traffic. Her maniacal actions give this 80 minute show a good dollop of humor. It needs it.

Then there is Eleanor (Lorri Holt) mother of Lili and Mary, a Scarlatti romantic who has taken off exploring the world, traveling through jungles, crossing rivers and even finds sanity in fly fishing. I guess she read Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler. Before she got hooked on angling she was a brain researcher discovering the female brain is larger than that of the male. The reason for this it has to store more memories. This is even more so in the lesbian brain than the straight brain because they have no future. Really?

There is no fixed set since the actors bring along the furniture that include a chais lounge, tables, a row of airplane seats and even a canoe. This works very smoothly and co-directors Katie Pearl and Jessica Holt do a fine job of keeping the time between scene changes minimal. If you wish to read anything into the script, there are many astute lines and many metaphors to invite intellectual conjecture. What you will walk away with is the marvel of the acting ability of all four accomplished actors.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com