SURVIVING DAVID

Sometimes life is just that way, when the layers of surreal hyper-reality get mixed up with what our everyday world looks like. So when we hear a statement such as, "He didn't make it," from a doctor in a hospital waiting room, it takes us more than a moment to figure out what it means. If we're Kathryn Graf, and the doctor is talking about our husband, familiar film and television actor David Graf, our response is, "He didn't make it? I recognize that expression from TV. But shouldn't the doctor be tall and handsome?"

In her new solo show, Graf shares her experiences of navigating a suddenly real world with two young sons, a world once inhabited by her larger-than-life, dramatic husband—a "6-foot-4 Boy Scout," who died after a heart attack at a family wedding. He was 51.

Surviving David is a touching first-person account of loss, grief, and, ultimately, self-realization, the kind of story that, yes, we've seen before. But Graf's admittedly therapeutic onstage journey is presented with an honesty and humor that works to underscore her uniquely L.A. experiences—where else would you happen upon a medium hiking in the Hollywood Hills?—and the universal feeling of uncertainty and fear after a tragedy. With an almost childlike bravery, Graf puts voice to the strangely crippling questions we all ask ourselves when striking out in new territory: "Do you say 'Hello' after your husband is dead?"

Director Tony Sears' hand is very evident in Graf's performance, at its most surprising when she displays a from-the-gut abandonment, which belies her training as an actor. Exploring female taboos—such as her overwhelming feelings of sexuality sans husband, and her anger and bitterness at still being expected to mother her sons—Graf succeeds in both unsettling and comforting her audience. She makes it clear that, after traveling in the shadow of a man she loved endlessly, she's now found her way in his absence. Sometimes it's just that way.

"Surviving David," presented by and at 2100 Square Feet, 5615 San Vicente Blvd., L.A. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m. Aug. 20-Oct. 9. $20. (800) 595-4849.