ANY SECOND NOW by Joanne O'Sullivan, directed by Chris Earle (Magee TV). At Young Centre for the Performing Arts (55 Mill). To October 7. $20-$25, stu discounts. 416-866-8666. See Continuing, page 86. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
Joanne O'Sullivan's autobiographical solo show Any Second Now is a light and playful look at the now oh-so-trendy theme of the mid-30s female crisis.
As O'Sullivan describes her dating and career setbacks, her burgeoning love affair with a young actor and her work as a story coordinator at a huge Toronto production house, she weaves stand-up patter into her personal poor-me narrative, striking a good balance between straight-up complaining and self-deprecation.
Her cute and lovable persona immediately draws the audience into her insecure interior world. The comedian also embodies the fragility and intrepidness that typify most comedic actors and, for the most part, this works to her advantage.
Unfortunately, O'Sullivan tries to accomplish too much, demanding both belly laughs and the audience's sympathy. Though she's believable when discussing her bad hygiene habits and rattling off her dirty stand-up jokes, she lacks the range to consistently convince us of the deeper emotional undercurrents. An experienced actor once said that to be a great actor you have to be unafraid of being ugly. Any truly successful performance requires risk-taking, a fearlessness about being exposed or ugly.
Darker comedy - not the Seinfeld brand of sitcom laughs - always has an element of cruelty or transgressiveness. The point of all this is that O'Sullivan eagerly exposes her own flaws and filth for laughs: she revels in describing her messy emotional and physical being. Yet somehow, she fails to strip away the other layers of her life to reveal the really funny stuff.