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Purdy Woman

Reviewed by Esther Tolkoff

Presented at The Red Room, 85 East 4 St., NYC, Aug. 16-26.

Mary Purdy's one-woman show is really funny. It's tough for any performer to sustain skit after skit; almost invariably some miss, or are too long, or become too similar in style. This, however, rarely happens here. Purdy offers highly varied characters—some through mime, most through monologues—and most of them work just fine. Which are better and which are just "OK" is strictly a matter of taste. None drag on too long, or are far off the mark.

She starts out thanking the audience for showing up as she takes off layer after layer of apparel—costumes and props belonging to outfits she will wear at some point during the show. She bemoans the difficulties of putting on a one-woman show (doing it all oneself, etc.), as she imperiously tosses each item of clothing onto her male assistant. "Raven" (the name of the character and the actor) reappears periodically in his role as long suffering loyal slave to a diva—but the diva is only one of Purdy's diverse characters.

Others, all cleverly done, include a manic barfly trying to make singles-style "social conversation," a "Glamazon," and a corporate trainer who can barely control her own job frustrations while attempting a cheery orientation for new employees.

Two videos, which serve as "intermissions," pale beside the live performance. They are the only elements that seem derivative (a bit too much like Letterman or Leno stepping out of the studio). It's a minor problem.

The show, directed by Patricia Buckley, with lighting and sound by Kurt Enger, is quite an achievement.

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