Tag Archives: Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith astonishes in ‘Let Me Down Easy’

Anna Deavere Smith in Let Me Down Easy. Photos by Berkeley Rep
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Anna Deavere Smith’s latest one-woman play “Let Me Down Easy” is like a novella of stories – the individual vignettes are bold and interesting, but are only loosely linked.

From her spot-on impersonation of Lance Armstrong, whose body is so kinetic it can’t stay still, to pretending to be the bed-ridden, cancer-stricken film critic Joel Siegel, to her poignant portrayal of Kiersta Kurtz-Burke, an intern who was shocked by the way her superiors at Charity Hospital in New Orleans treated Katrina victims, Smith is mesmerizing in her ability to channel the words and quirks of her characters.

The 105-minute play is based on interviews with more than 320 people on three continents over a ten-year period. Smith focuses on 20 of those characters and uses their verbatim interviews to create a heart-wrenching portrait of our attitudes toward our bodies, their strengths and weaknesses, and our feelings about death.

On a stage sparsely decorated with a white couch, a dining table with chairs, and huge hanging mirrors, Smith changes lightening-fast from one person to another. She dons a piece of clothing or picks up a prop like a bottle of beer or coffee mug to delineate each character, and then discards those items on the stage as the play progresses. It’s almost a metaphor for her overarching theme: that life is ethereal and short. We are here and then we are not. The props are of use and then they are not, but traces of them remain. … Continue reading »

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