Tulis McCall pokes her gamine-like head out from behind the curtain. A card carrying WCA= Woman of a Certain Age, she then feigns forgetting her lines. It’s not that she/we haven’t been doing this all our lives, the author/actor notes, but that suddenly such incidents are identified as “senior moments.” Subway handrails-“Oh my God, what a great idea!” ‘Clearly a matter of altered perception.
What was once a perfectly wonderful relationship with mirrors has become “dysfunctional,” adversarial. She feels betrayed by what she sees. “This is how old I am- We used pencils… erasers (in grammar school), our blackboards were black!” The audience roars. Most remember straining at the bit to grow up, wanting, as she says “a piece of the action,” then being age-proud up to “30-excuse me?! Let the judging begin!”
At one point McCall tells us her favorite bedtime reading is the Oxford English Dictionary. Not implausible. What she does with a single sentence – words, tone, and countenance has the eloquence of faces on Charles Schultz’ Peanuts characters created with two dots, a half circle and a flexible line. Having observed everyday occurrences with the gimlet eye of a storyteller, she stands before us stripped bare and merciless against walk-around politesse. Why must I be preoccupied with this, she questions, what happened to hopes and dreams?
McCall opines on passing her prime (a priceless, visual anecdote), denial, procrastination, one’s body “reporting in,” invisibility, and things she feels entitled to swear off – including an hysterically described sexual favor. Every woman (and possibly man) in the mostly middle-aged audience flashes on her own evolving experience. There’s enough terrific comic reality material here to have supported a year of successful appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show (with moderate FCC censorship). Timing is exquisite, gestures organic. She has us enthralled.
Up to now, we’re laughing, but mood turns on a dime. “Death is on a need to know basis,” she comments darkly. A volcano of regret erupts with the force of Medea or Lady Macbeth. We imagine or identify with referred-to tears, feelings of hopeless impotence, the shadow of a grim reaper. Look back, then forward, do you see yourself? Breath is sucked out of the room. People still. “And that my friends is how you beat the crap out of regret!”
Thank God, she brings us back (though not without lingering echoes). Facing the next chapter of life with energy, determination, and the discovery of resources often taken for granted, McCall encourages us to join her with revised perception; courage, humor, and some off-the-wall plans. She shares her own aspirational obituary because really, the piece should contain what one would have done, exiting with bright eyes and a droll toast.
Tulis MCall, who runs the monthly Monologues and Madness at Cornelia Street Café, has taken us on a real journey. Superb theater.
All in Good Time was Directed by Jon Lonoff whose symbiotic relationship with the thespian creates a seamlessly natural, extremely personal, highly affecting piece. Vignettes are subtly separated by shifting stools and lighting adjustment. Pacing is pitch perfect.
Single caveat: A story about childhood house rules preventing bathroom use during the night runs too long in relationship to a somewhat obscure point.
Photos by Flash Rosenberg
All In Good Time
Written and Performed by Tulis McCall
Directed by Jon Lonoff
The 8th Annual United Solo Festival – 120 shows from 6 continents
Through November 20, 2017
410 West 42nd Street