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BWW Review: ERMA BOMBECK: AT WIT'S END at MainStage Irving-Las Colinas

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The story of Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End is a biographical, one-woman show about the life of this accomplished and beloved mother, writer, and activist.

BWW Review: ERMA BOMBECK: AT WIT'S END  at MainStage Irving-Las Colinas

We all have a picture in our head when we think of the 1950s housewife: The petite woman with the well-coiffed hair, donning a string of pearls and a fit-to-flare dress, happily doing housework until her husband and children come home at the end of the day. If that image makes you nauseated, you're not alone- Erma Bombeck is right there with you. The story of Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End is a biographical, one-woman show about the life of this accomplished and beloved mother, writer, and activist. Though our modern housewives and stay at home moms may look different today- their struggles, dreams, and unspoken frustration remain largely the same- making many parts of Bombeck's story inspiring and relatable.

Mainstage Irving- Las Colinas put on a well-executed production of this quaint one-hour, one-woman show, that is available to be streamed from the comfort of your home. Any theatre that presses on during a global pandemic has my respect, and one that puts on a production that is both high-quality and safe for viewers and artists alike has my admiration. Though filmography isn't in the wheelhouse of many theatres, the visual and audio quality of this show was exceptionally well done, making it easy to focus on the show itself- without getting distracted by awkward camera angles or a glitching mic!

For readers who have never seen a one-woman (or one-man) show before, it's worth reflecting on the fact that these stupendous actors have essentially memorized a one-hour (or longer) monologue. While most actors rely on cues or dialogue-based prompts from their fellow actors with which they can recall their lines, solo performers have no such tools. The stupendous actor in this case is Ellen Locy, the titular Erma Bombeck. Not only was Lucy's execution on point, but I felt as though she captured a key characteristic of Bombeck: mental toughness and perseverance. Locy's performance emulated a woman who takes everything in stride, is proud of her work- domestic and professional- and doesn't let anyone get the best of her. She perfected the knowing look of a mother (you know the one I'm talking about!), and the fierce determination of someone who is fighting for change- in this case, the fight for the equal rights amendment in 1972. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how effortlessly Ellen Locy incorporated and delivered Bombeck's legendary wit though her performance in a way that so elegantly rounded out this fascinating heroine. Brava!BWW Review: ERMA BOMBECK: AT WIT'S END  at MainStage Irving-Las Colinas

The aforementioned 1950s-60s aesthetic was well captured in the set of this home. A tidy little kitchen, living room, and bedroom with period-appropriate furniture transports the viewer back to another time. The lighting design was equally well-done and was especially intriguing during the scene where Bombeck is attending a Betty Friedan lecture at the local library. Finally, Locy's costume and hair made her the spitting image of Bombeck, adding to the picturesque nature of this show.

As one can image, one-person shows have the tendency to feel slow compared to those with a more dynamic cast, and I found this to be true in Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End. Nevertheless, the times are what they are, and I think theatres are being smart about capitalizing on utilizing the solo performer shows that we have at our disposal. For the viewer who wants to learn more about this woman who used her ordinary life and love of writing to make a difference in the world, do not miss Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End.

Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End can be streamed through November 21, 2020 through the Mainstage Irving-Las Colinas website.

Press photos by Mike Morgan Photography, Inc.

Set photos by SoloShoe Communications, LLC.


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From This Author Kathleen Anwar