Fringeworthy

Hip Shot: ‘Shirley Dreaming’

Shirley Dreaming

Where: The Apothecary (1013 7th St NW)

Remaining Performances:Shirley played by Joani Maher

Saturday July 17, 3:30 p.m.
Sunday July 18, 11 a.m.
Tuesday July 20, 7:30 a.m.
Thursday July 22, 10:00 p.m.
Saturday July 24, 1:15 p.m.

They Say: It’s a magically realistic musical comedy about what happens when a starry-eyed graduate with a singing habit is unknowingly put in charge of a failing children's book company.

Dee’s Take: This was a pleasant experience.  Despite some glitches (a lengthy opening song, an obnoxious antagonist) writer/director Tyler Budd’s Shirley Dreaming is a quirky, playful story that appeals to a peripatetic imagination. Through interplay between Shirley and her co-workers, the audience is transported to the realm of dreams.  There they find a macabre children’s story about cannibals, a husband whose soul in trapped in a cat, and a whimsical open sea battle.

The play opens with a frenzied monologue delivered by Boss Bass, which was disturbing.  It was incomprehensible: She rambled on incessantly, barely pausing for breath in her hysteria, then exited.  WTF?

Soon thereafter, and mercifully, we are introduced to Shirley Childs.  Shirley (Joani Maher) sings about the entry-level job she is beginning that day.  This song is rather lengthy for my taste, however Maher does a wonderful job.  She sings sweetly, never hits a sour note, makes appropriate decisions as an actress and frankly carries the show with the help of Steve.  We meet Steve (Adi Stien) after Shirley arrives on the 49th floor.  He immediately falls in love with her and proceeds to make a fool of himself, much to the audience’s amusement.  The rest of the story includes interplay between the office staff:  Ivy the Intern, Bass’s evil sidekick; Wanda Butt, a cracked out old lady; Steve and Shirley.  Ultimately, Shirley Dreaming is a delightful musical comedy about a young woman finding her way in a world of idiosyncratic characters.

See it if: You enjoy a strong female lead who sings well, and a cute story with adventurous and curious meta-tales.

Skip it if: You dislike hyperactive, loud antagonists, or have no imagination.

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