“Roaring” is one of the most delicious productions put on by Best Medicine Rep, and a world premier written and directed by John Morogiello, a founder of Best Medicine Rep.
‘Roaring’ is a celebration of a woman’s self-determination told with verve and delight and a light touch. It will linger in your mind for a long time.
Morogiello wrote the play in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 20th century, and he has gifted us with a woman’s voice — clear, direct, and complex. As the title character, Mabel Daniels, says, once she started learning to talk she roared, and never stopped.
“Roaring”introduces us to Mabel on the cusp of the Roaring Twenties and follows her through that decade. There is a jump in time to later in the century at the very end, where we learn what happened to her in the intervening years, at least briefly.
‘Roaring’ is a one-woman show. Kira Burri plays Mabel and all the other parts as well, using her voice and mannerisms to delineate them. As a bonus, Burri can sing, and four carefully chosen songs are scattered throughout.
Burri is magnificent. She captures the zeitgeist of the age perfectly. As Mabel, she takes us through the maturing of a young woman craving independence and wanting to make a difference in the world at the same time. She embodies her determination to be a force, and she also owns her missteps and misdirection in her life’s journey.
Along the way we get to meet — in a series of vignettes in cities across the United States and Europe — some of the world’s most influential artists, politicians, psychoanalysts, actors, and sports figures. Mabel is not shy about her (unsung) influence. She was a woman after all and kept running into that brick wall. She also learns important lessons about truth, honor, and finding a deeper purpose. That journey is riveting and delightful.
We also learn that Detroit, where Mabel is from, has been known as the “Paris of the Midwest.” I wonder if that moniker is ever still used.
This is a comedy and romance and the romance has a lovely twist to it. Roland, whom she meets at 19 and despises because he always calls her “Toots,” plays a vital role in her maturing, and she, in turn, does the same for him. It’s a twisty path and Morogiello is savvy enough not to give us a traditional happily-ever-after ending.
The writing is mostly taut, and often poetic. It evokes images and you can picture it all unspooling in your mind.
The set by Morogiello and Mary Roberds is simple and effective, reminiscent of two other one-woman plays, “Ann” and “Laura Bush Killed A Guy.” It looks as if it was filmed on the stage of the Best Medicine Rep in Lakeforest Mall. The video editing is very well done, especially given all the costume changes.
The costumes are simply fabulous. They are the creation of Elizabeth Kemmerer and the dresses and hats are stunning show-stoppers. This is tailoring at it’s finest.
“Roaring” is a celebration of a woman’s self-determination told with verve and delight and a light touch. It will linger in your mind for a long time.
Running Time: Approximately one hour and 18 minutes without intermission.
Show Advisory: Simulated noises of gunfire and some mild adult language.
“Roaring” runs through November 22, 2020 on Vimeo, brought to streaming by Best Medicine Rep. For more information, please click here.