BWW Reviews: In Extension at Atwater Village Theatre, Katie Rubin's WHY I DIED, A COMEDY! Deliciously Mixes Spirituality with Madness
Why I Died, A Comedy/written & performed by Katie Rubin/directed by Victor Bumbalo/Echo Theatre at Atwater Village Theatre/remaining performances: Saturday: January 18; Friday: January 17/Thursdays: February 6, 13, 20
Theatre of Consciousness, in which a performer tackles their life story to bring awareness to others, can get tedious in the wrong hands. Not so with Katie Rubin. This is one very talented lady who has the ability to play a variety of characters in Why I Died, a comedy!, including Americans and foreigners - with the right accent intact - and to move the material along at a good pace, making it funny as well as enlightening. The title alone reaches out and grabs you... and the 80 minute play has a lightening speed and quirky appeal that keep you riveted. But it was mostly Rubin's talent, not the material, that enthralled me and her fine acting skill of going all the way and making every moment full, with director Victor Bumbalo's wise choice to allow her plenty of creative space.
This is Rubin's fourth solo play, the first about attaining sobriety -ugh! There was one about relationships and the third, a takoff on the 12-step program of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), which, due to my experience with alcoholic relatives and friends, I would love to have seen. But this curious Why I Died, a comedy!, explores the more recent part of Rubin's life, which included her severe unexplained emotional pain, and trying to find a way to let it go.... through spiritual healing. The spiritual healing school up in northern California seemed the perfect choice for her at first, because in a session she felt the light which drew up all of the pain from inside of her and literally washed it away, but...the people involved were another story, hypocritical to the core about minorities and their place in the propagated unified whole.
What is hysterically funny, as I stated up top, is Rubin's sharp, quick wit, total openness about herself and others and her ability to channel all of this into each character, like her mom, who she fantasizes as a mugger trying her damndest to rob kids on the street and simultaneously straighten out their lives, or friend Willow, an uber cheerful type of Valley girl, or Hubeba, an Egyptian woman hired to videotape a session with a Southern gal selling slim-fast belts - their clash of wits is a highlight of the show - finally Maria, a Cuban hospital worker with peculiar healing powers who gets fired unfairly for cursing out a hospital employee. Maria is the best layered character in the piece, the one who makes Katie realize who she is and how she can accept the divergent parts of her life, without relying on radical means such as gurus or healing schools. Unity of purpose is at the heart of the play, and she ultimately gets close to it.
Go and see Katie Rubin in Why I Died, a comedy! She will make you laugh a lot and maybe come to some realizations about yourself ... like what options you have in finding true peace and happiness within. Expect miracles! is a great phrase she uses quite a lot here, and if you leave yourself open to the possibility, it just may happen.