Blamed: An Established Fiction. In Rose & Rue Theatre Company and the La Habra Theatre Guild’s new play, a troupe of ladies, dressed as if fresh off the boat at the turn of the 20th century, collectively decide to tell stories of misrepresented women from history and folklore.
Blamed is a solid show that runs to the point of precision. It is a mixed-genre piece with everything from dance to singing to shadow puppetry, and even sign language. A live band plays from the moment the doors open. Everything the young women do in the course of this short performance is enthralling: their dancing is lovely, their singing impeccable, and their dedication, palpable.
The stories — about Pandora, Lilith, Joan of Arc, La Malinche, Little Red Riding Hood, and Marie Antoinette - are familiar, but Blamed does a commendable job of highlighting how our images of powerful female figures have been manipulated over time to belittle their contributions. The many ways of telling these stories is riveting, poignant, and not to be missed!
Work Schmerk. An autobiographical recounting of Jay Flewelling’s past employment. It’s apparent early on that he is not the most adept at keeping a job he doesn’t like, which is where much of the humor of the show comes from. One after another, Flewelling recounts tales of former coworkers’ bizarre idiosyncrasies, amusing anecdotes of past students, and his own “cheap” moments.
The piece advertises itself as a “multimedia one-man-comedy show.” The multimedia element only adds noticeable clumsiness and mistakes: delayed projections and forgotten sound cues that make Flewelling wait, and flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants lighting changes that leave him in the dark. These frustrate all the more because of Flewelling’s talent. He is comfortable in front of a crowd and quick-witted enough to throw out funny retorts when something goes wrong.
Unfortunately, in addition to the superfluous multimedia components, Flewelling paces about the stage during ridiculously short music clips, often interrupting the flow of the storytelling. The bare stage, one-man show is a trite cliché, I know, but all the movement and multimedia seem tacked-on and add little. Flewelling should just stand on stage, tell his stories, and be his charming, funny self. That’s worth seeing.