Fragments of Heartbreak Reassembled Here
Taking Charge: A Review of Fragments of Heartbreak Reassembled Here at Prop Thtr
Wendy Parman has been a presence on the cabaret scene for a while, most notably as the host and curator of Singer Salon, an ongoing vocal series. Her new show, part of the Rhinoceros Festival lineup, is called “Fragments of Heartbreak Reassmbled Here,” and it while it’s about the length of an average cabaret show, running somewhere beyond an hour, it covers a wide swath of emotional ground, and expands Parman’s onstage prowess to include spoken-word pieces, poetry and a fair amount of acting. (Though her collaborator, the gifted pianist Justin Bernard Bowse, shares the stage with her, all her dialogue is directed to a telephone.)
There’s also singing, of course. Parman wrote the tunes for this show, which begins at the nadir of her life, as she endures a post-divorce depression during an especially frigid Chicago winter. The lyrics throughout are satisfyingly wry and occasionally land a solid emotional punch, as when she sings about her mother, “An extraordinary woman, difficult, creative, beautiful and critical / And whimsical and natural and punishingly critical / Unable to have friends / Now I’m fifty-five years old, now I understand.”
The show’s staging is minimal though effective (it’s directed by Jill Daly); but what will make it especially revelatory for women is that Parman charts her self-rehabilitation through creative work, ultimately taking charge of her own creative destiny. She first returns to the auditioning circuit after decades, which leads to disillusionment, not only over how young her competition is but how venal (“Oh, the chatterers. I hate the chatterers! I forgot about the chatterers!”). Unable to find, much less land, roles to fit her age, Parman writes and produces her own web sitcom, “Callie’s Solo,” and then… well, she writes and performs this show. Which means that “Fragments of Heartbreak Reassembled Here” is itself part of the story of “Fragments of Heartbreak Reassembled Here.” Cabaret was never quite that meta.
Sunday, February 17 and 24, 7pm, at Prop Thtr, 3502 North Elson, (773)742-5420. $15 or pay what you can.
(Student and Senior Tickets are $15)