Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center of New York City. It was by Halley Feiffer and it was directed by Keira Fromm. It was about two strangers named Don (Stef Tovar) and Karla (Mary Williamson) whose mothers Geena (Judy Lea Steele) and Marcie (Meg Thalken) both had cancer. They meet because their mothers are sharing a hospital room and a friendship starts. It is about family, loneliness, and grief. I think this is a really weird but fun show. The characters were really unique--I've never seen any characters like any of these people--and it was intriguing to watch.
I thought that the relationships in this play were very interesting to watch, although they were very messed up people. The relationship between Karla and Don started with conflict about the volume of one of Karla's bits. They are basically arguing through a curtain for the first twenty minutes of the play. But then they start to talk because they are sort of bored and they sort of don't have anyone else to talk to. They are feeling vulnerable because their parents are dying, they are alone, and either their childhood or their child's childhood isn't going that well. When people who are really deeply messed up have relationships, I am worried for the outcome. Messed up people definitely deserve happiness, but it might be better if they went with someone who didn't have so many of their own problems to throw onto the ones they already have. But if you love someone, you should definitely try it out. The relationship between Karla and her mom I think was really beautiful even if it was slightly weird. You really get to see that in the last scene because in the rest of the play Karla's mom is being mean. I liked how the ending scene was kind of a nod to the first one where Don asks why Karla has to read her bits aloud, and she says it's because her mom and she did that all the time when her mom was awake. Later you find out that that hadn't really been the case. I thought that it was a really great way to wrap up the play, to see a relationship turn into something more deep than it was in the beginning and to see Karla get something like the relationship she wanted with her mom.
This show had some very disturbing moments. Like the opening to the play was Karla writing a comedy bit about how she has been single for so long. It was basically about her "wet dreams." It was disturbing because she talked about rape and I don't think rape is ever really funny, at least not the way that I know the definition. But there were also some funny lines, like when she talked about the fedora. People who have seen the show will know what I mean. I also thought it was pretty disturbing how the mothers of the two main characters had to listen to graphic content concerning their children. I was disturbed because of some of the graphic content that was shown, and I didn't know it would be. The description did say there were dirty jokes, but to me it went past the realm of jokes into stuff that was more visual. And I didn't like how the last thing one of the characters would hear was this content. I think it was purposeful, and I think it is okay to have stuff that is disturbing, but I just wanted to point out how disturbing it might be to people my age.
People who would like this show are people who like really long titles, sparkling water, and fedoras. I think this is a weirdly great show. It had some really great performances and some really great plot points. Not every moment worked for me, but I think that it still worked well.
Photos: Brandon Dahlquist