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Complexity Marks Charlayne Woodard's 'Neat' Life

Marti Gobel stars in Renaissance's one-woman show

Jan. 11, 2012
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Renaissance Theaterworks spotlights the work of powerful stage actress Marti Gobel with its latest production, Neat, Charlayne Woodard's autobiographical one-woman show. For Renaissance's staging of the drama, the remarkably talented Gobel will play multiple roles, including Charlayne and Aunt Neat. Charlayne comes from the city; Neat hails from the country. A friendship develops over the years, as their lives change dramatically.

Illiterate and unable to tell the difference between two bottles, Neat's great-grandmother accidentally poisons Neat as an infant. This being Georgia in the early '40s, the African-American family is turned away from a whites-only hospital. Neat is saved, but not before suffering brain damage from the tragic incident. And so it is that Charlayne continues to develop emotionally and psychologically while Neat remains largely childlike but for a mysterious pregnancy much later on.

Gobel has performed a one-woman show before, notably in Dael Orlandersmith's Beauty's Daughter for Uprooted Theatre. She covers similar ground for this show, but from a different perspective. Like Orlandersmith's drama, Neat challenges Gobel to take on a variety of roles. In addition to playing members of Woodard's family, Gobel must portray both a developmentally challenged woman and one who develops dramatically.

Renaissance Theaterworks' production of Neat runs Jan. 13-Feb. 5 at the Broadway Theatre Center's Studio Theatre. For ticket reservations, call 414-291-7800.

Theater Happenings

  • The Milwaukee Rep presents Christopher Sergel's stage adaptation of Harper Lee's classic story To Kill a Mockingbird. Aaron Posner directs the drama Jan. 31-March 4 at the Quadracci Powerhouse. For ticket reservations, call 414-224-9490.
  • Jordan Gwiazdowski stars in the Milwaukee premiere of Jonathan Larson's Tick, Tick…BOOM! From Jan. 27-Feb. 11, Soulstice Theatre presents the autobiographical tale of members of Generation X coming of age in New York in the early '90s at the Keith Tamsett Theatre, 3770 S. Pennsylvania Ave., St. Francis. For ticket reservations, call 414-481-2800.


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