Deborah Williams is one funny lady, able to find humour in the everyday things of life. In this play, which she wrote and in which she is the sole performer, she pokes fun at middle age. She writes lists in an effort to remember all she has to do; she talks about losing weight, knowing that it will never happen. Beginning to see how little her life matters in the Big Scheme, she plans a holiday in New Orleans to take her out of a mundane life. She has the audience laughing uproariously at one ridiculous thing after another, and her use of body language and facial expressions is hilarious. Her spontaneous recruitment of audience members as other characters is especially funny, and this will make the play different every time it is performed, depending on who she picks and how they respond.
But it is not all silliness and slapstick here – there are some serious issues at stake. Age is certainly one of them, but friendship (or rather the lack of it) is without question another. Her long-standing friendship with Maureen comes to an end in a dramatic way, and we feel Williams’ pain.
This is a short play – 90 minutes including an intermission, and the second section takes on a slightly different tone – one of pathos, which still has its humorous moments. It is spent with our protagonist arguing charmingly with an agent about an expired passport. Her suggestion that he change the expiry date, or pastes recent photos from her I-phone over the old ones, definitely seems to make sense until she finds herself handcuffed and hauled away.
Making a joke about something which impacts our lives is to take it out and have a good look at it. Laughing at it renders it impotent, removes its ability to hurt.
Williams’ first play Mom’s the Word, and its various successors, touched the funny bone of the nation over twenty years ago. Taking Off proves Deborah Williams still has the ability to makes us laugh, but also to make us weep and, most importantly, to make us think. It runs at the Belfry (Studio A) until March 12. For tickets call 250-385-6815.