It’s an hour in a basement with an insurance agent. It’s okay, though: she’s cool. She’s enjoyably philosophical and engagingly articulate. And she’s played by Jennifer Vosters so…y’know…she’s really cool. It’s a one hour video production of Lauren Gunderson’s Natural Shocks. The one-act monologue is set in “A half-finished basement in a normal house in America right now.” Only it’s not right right now. She doesn’t mention anything about COVID. And she would because she gets into A LOT of different topics over the course of the monologue. And because she’s really really into risk assessment. She would have preferred to be an actuary, actually.
Directed by Micheal Cotey, the incredibly tight, little video package was produced for the Third Avenue Playhouse as a part of its PlayWorks 2021 online series. It was available for one night only on the 19th, but wow…it’s REALLY too bad this video isn’t available anymore as it was one of TAP’s “special events.” Vosters’ one-hour performance was an incredibly nuanced portrayal of one of the sweetest, most endearing characters ever committed to drama. She’s trying to be honest to the audience, but she lies about some things. She says that there’s a disaster coming. A tornado. And so she’s addressing an audience. And since this is made-for-internet, Vosters plays the character delivering the monologue into her phone. It’s a powerfully intimate performance.
Vosters has had a lot of experience delivering monologues into the internet recently. Her “Impassioned Video Monologue” series on Facebook has been raising money for American Players Theatre over the course of the pandemic. She’s a captivating presence pointed directly at an audience from within a glowing rectangle. In the course of that series, she’d played…actually she’d played a few characters in one of those videos. (But only briefly. And they were all played for comedy.) With Natural Shocks Vosters a deeply engrossing ability to render the inner complexities of a single person and her memories. Vosters deftly dives into one hour in the life of a person who is very, very familiar with the nature of risk and hazard as she hides out in her own basement.
Lauren Gunderson’s script is jaw-droopingly intricate. There’s a HELL of a lot going on in the script narratively, poetically and thematically. The themes being covered in the script are staggeringly important in today’s socio-political environment. It’s a play that needs to be seen. Again: it’s really too bad that this was a one-night thing. With any luck this script gains traction and makes it onto tiny, little stages all over the place once COVID restrictions lift. This video, though…wow. Things can be incredibly intimate on the small stage, but this script played to a phone on low-res video…it gains quite a bit. It’s just you and her and the screen. It is darkly stunning in so many ways.
The Third Avenue Playhouse’s PlayWorks 2021 online series continues into the Spring and beyond with James Valcq’s The Kissing Girl and Theresa Rebeck’s The Understudy coming-up in April and May. For a full schedule of upcoming events, check out TAP online.
You may not be able to see Vosters cowering in a basement in character, but you CAN see her delivering monologues online. Jennifer Vosters’ Impassioned video monologue series remains available on Facebook. There are 16 of them. They’re all 5-6 minutes long and they’re all a lot of fun.
And the show may be over, but audiences can still view the trailer. Here it is: