Angela Neff Another Picnic at the AsylumBy Betsy Marks Delaney • Jul 21st, 2010 • Category: Fringe, Reviews
Through Juy 25th
Reviewed July 20, 2010
The Official Description: Unforgettable twenty character journey: mummies spilling out of cars, psychedelic glasses, and rocking church services as a young woman struggles to come of age amidst the dark spiral of her father’s manic-depression, landing him on skid rows and newspaper headlines.
She says: “Before he was another homeless “character” on skid row, Bob Neff was a loving father of eight piloting an unreliable 1948 Woody on surfing safaris and leading his kids’ backyard 4-H adventures in a nascent Silicon Valley. His tendency to take things to extremes – from advanced Catholicism to psychedelic holidays – somehow seemed part and parcel of that era’s Northern California grooviness. But the dark spiral of bi-polar mental illness eventually sent him down a rabbit hole of madness – to a brooding state mental hospital complete with electro-shock therapy and surreal Sunday picnics.”
I say Angela has picked some tough material to work through here. From her early childhood recollections to her father’s final days, Angela paints a sometimes colorful, sometimes stunningly dark portrait of life with her father, an alcoholic who suffered from bipolar disorder, amidst her family of eight. She takes us on a slow motion roller coaster ride, punctuated with surprisingly frank, occasionally funny, images of intense love and passion, all mixed together with the devastating effects of her father’s mental illness.
Angela’s pacing is deliberate, absorbing. She challenges us to join her in this journey through madness. Another Picnic at the Asylum is not an easy piece to watch, but it is valuable for anyone who has encountered a parent, sibling or friend with mental illness. It’s worth the time to watch and share Angela’s experiences. A question and answer session followed the performance and (I believe) will be part of the remaining performances during her run.
Produced by Stella Productions, Another Picnic at the Asylum is written and performed by Angela Neff, directed by Mark Kenward. Developed with David Ford. Sound and Lighting Technician: Ashley Jones
Disclaimer: Capital Fringe provided a complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/5324.
Betsy Marks Delaney is founder and Artistic Director of OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company (O2B2) and General Manager of the Greenbelt Arts Center. Since 2006 Betsy has worked as a director, producer, designer and more. Betsy has also worked with Washington Revels, Arena Stage, the now-defunct Harlequin Dinner Theatre and with community theatre companies both in Maryland and in upstate New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technical Theatre from SUNY New Paltz. Through Hawkeswood Productions, Betsy produces archival performance videos and YouTube highlight spots.