Thursday, May 18, 2017

After the Beep - 2017 UNO Festival

World Premiere May 18, 8:30 pm
Also Friday May 19, 8:30 pm, at Intrepid Theatre Club

Remember when Mary Poppins says she's "practically perfect in every way" and the children aren't quite sure what to respond?  That's kind of how I feel After the Beep. 

The world premiere performance of "After the Beep" was, for me, part "oh my god she had such an awesome dad who trusted her and let her have so much independence" and part "I wish I'd kept more evidence from my youth."  Between television's "The Goldbergs" (where an 80s kid's VCR tapes form the basis for a weekly sitcom) and this theatrical sharing of telephone message tapes, it's clear that no matter what kind of youth and childhood you survived, it's funnier now.  Especially when you can offer up real live teenage artifacts like VCR or cassette tapes.  
Regardless of your current age, if you survived your teen years you'll likely relate strongly to the memories Pamela's answering machine tapes reveal - the goofy nicknames, made-up language sounds, creatively spliced messages and sounds of friends having fun with technology.  And if, after teenhood, you chose the path of parenthood (or even if you didn't) you'll be inspired by Pamela's reflections on the mysterious continuum of incessant uncertainty that follows the flow of life as we move from one stage to another.

My only criticism, and I mean it to be constructive, is that I wanted something to look at.  Pamela is very pretty, with lively facial expressions, but the only thing to look at aside from her were graphs detailing the variety of calls she collected.  Those were fun.  But I would suggest she also project photos of the people she's introducing us to.  Or if that's too personal, photos of people who look like the people she's talking about.  Photos of her house, the neighbourhood, the Hollywood Cinema where she worked, that sort of thing.  And, or, a written transcript of each call.  The caller's words were sometimes unintelligible, often because the audience was laughing.  I feel like I missed hearing a lot of what was being said, after the beep.

Perfect Pamela is an evocative story-teller whose autobiographical tale weaves in and out and among and through the answering machine taped evidence of her youth, documenting all kinds of memories - happy and sad, silly and scary.  She'll be performing "After the Beep" again on May 19th at 6:30 pm at Intrepid's Theatre Club.  Check her out at, and get there early ... her premiere performance was sold out.  

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