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Paulanne Simmons

"Searching for Soula": a One-Woman Show with Soul

"Searching for Soula"
Directed by Don Bill
Midtown International Theater Festival
Short Subject Division
The Jewel Box Theater
312 W. 36th St., 4th Fl.
July 22 at 6 p.m., July 23 at 7:30 p.m. July 24 at 1 p.m.
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons July 22, 2010

Marisa Petsakos in "Searching for Soula." Photo by Jimmy Heyworth.

The best thing about Marisa Petsakos's "Searching for Soula" is that she doesn't spend the entire hour talking about herself. "Searching for Soula" is an exploration of the life and loves of a feisty young lady named Soula and several of her friends and relatives, as told by Irena, her childhood friend from Astoria.

Petsakos wrote the piece and also plays Soula; Irena; a born-again cousin living in the South; her devout Irish-Catholic aunt; and a cynical, cigarette-puffing French friend. Each of the characters has a distinct personality and way of speaking. Each is sad and funny in her own way.

Marisa Petsakos in "Searching for Soula." Photo by Jimmy Heyworth.

The aunt gives a dissertation on the wicked ways and uncanny temptations of the penis. The cousin is a radio host who is inspired by the very name of Jesus, a name that sends her into ecstasy. The French friend compares Americans unfavorably with her countrymen. She is sexy, sarcastic and unapproachable.

Soula herself is a free spirit who treats men the way they often treat women. Even Irena admits she may be a slut. But like most woman, Soula, it turns out, is quite vulnerable.

Under Don Bill's capable direction, the show moves quickly and surely. Petsakos is convincing and funny in all her roles and her sharp wit always hits its target. This reviewer would certainly like to see more of her.


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