More Praise for Nell

Theater review: 'And I Am Not Making This Up'

Weatherwax's show intimate, universal and ever changing

By Dana Dyer Pierson H-T Reviewer (reprinted with permission from the Hoosier Times)
May 25, 2008

Nell Weatherwax describes her new improvised story theater show, “And I Am Not Making This Up” as “a one-woman show created just for you, on the spot, here and now” and that's the only synopsis one can offer. Through a thoroughly engaging series of vignettes from her own past, told via purely improvised words, movement, and light, she brings her life to life.

Every anecdote was culled from her own experience — and if the opening night performance is any indication, she has a rich well from which to draw inspiration. As she explained it, “I've walked through the seven circles of hell — and laughed the whole way.”

Watching impromptu creative thought percolating through Weatherwax's limber body is like watching a moth emerging from its cocoon: The process is as mysterious, provocative, and fascinating as the product. It was mesmerizing to watch these moments of discovery, as she harvested the next memory from somewhere deep within. It was as intimate as attending a birth.

Weatherwax accomplished the highly improbable in performance art: She created a profoundly intimate and personal evening of theater without once plunging into self-indulgence. It is this sort of pure performance that proves that, in the right hands, one must not confine the definition of “theater” to the limitations of sets, costumes — or even a script.

How does one review such a performance? The material will change for every audience. That said, the specifics are secondary to the sheer act of vibrant creation. These are so ephemeral that the performer herself admits to not realizing she is doing them: “It's like I'm dreaming them,” she explained after the show.

Any review of this production would be incomplete without praise for the equally powerful — and improvised — work of Lee Burkes, the “Lighting Goddess.” Her ability to react and connect was seamless, and much of the success of the evening belongs to her eloquent choreography of light and shadow. For any lighting operator to be able to move so instinctively — on the fly — is no easy task, and she soared to the challenge.

To say that this performance is “about” something almost misses the point. The evening is a beautiful blend of the whimsical, the thought-provoking, and the tragic. There are moments that plunge right to the universal psyche. It is simultaneously intimate and universal. “And I Am Not Making This Up” is a profoundly beautiful, imaginative, unique, and special evening, one that should not be missed.