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'Let Me Down Easy' is more than a one-woman show Maria Patrice Amon | Thu, May 19 2011 03:55 PM

Ana Deavere Smith's play “Let Me Down Easy” was recently brought to the Lyceum Theatre stage through a joint project by San Diego Repertory Theatre and The La Jolla Playhouse. The two theaters combined their efforts to bring the world-renowned theater artist to the San Diego community in a rare opportunity to see Smith's superb talent live.

“Let Me Down Easy” is a documentary play in line with Smith's style. For the work, she interviewed more than 300 people, from doctors and nurses, to Lance Armstrong and Lauren Hutton. Smith edits and arranges the interviews to create a work that comments on a selected theme. The themes of “Let Me Down Easy” vacillate between a general contemplation of the body and what is means to occupy the ideal body of an athlete and more specific interrogation of the American health care system. Overall, the play fixates on death and the ultimate demise of the body.

The interviews are presented as monologues, live-video recordings and one-sided interviews. They are arranged to evoke a sense of conversation. The many voices Smith brings to the stage have never encountered each other in real-life, but through her hand they meet and dialogue on the stage.

In performance Smith embodies a wide range of human personalities. “Let Me Down Easy” is technically a one-woman show; however, her great range creates a cast of dozens. Her skill at performing men and women, young and old is astounding. With minimal props she channels the a plethora of characters moving seamlessly between identities and leaving the stage littered with their remnants

“Let Me Down Easy” presents a wonderful opportunity to witness a rare talent, and must not be missed.

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