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Not for the Wide World

A deft one-woman show stages three short stories by important female writers of the 20th century

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Through June 30 (Wednesdays only)

Tickets are $10-12

(510) 549-2641

Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant (at Ellsworth), Berkeley

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Putting prose onstage is never easy, but this co-production between Opening Night Productions and Women in Time is an admirable undertaking. A one-woman show starring the dynamic Valerie de Jose, Not for the Wide World stages three short stories by important female writers of the 20th century in a brief, 75-minute evening of theater. In "Sentiment" by Dorothy Parker, an upscale New Yorker of the 1930s finds herself in a taxicab, mooning pathetically over love lost; as she strokes her offensive-looking fox stole and weeps in agony, she also takes moments here and there to jot down thoughts about her self-obsessed and often comical condition, finding refuge in her self-proclaimed profundity. ("Sorrow is tranquillity remembered in emotion," she muses with pride.) The second story, Katherine Mansfield's "The Lady's Maid," is about a lonely maid in London's 1930s who gave up her one opportunity for marriage out of a sense of loyalty and obligation to her old, feeble mistress. Eudora Welty's "Why I Live at the P.O." is the final piece, and the liveliest, following the story of a young Southern woman in the 1940s who, plagued by the return of her unbearable sister, was driven out of their family's home and into the local post office, where she has since taken up residence. WIT's Sacha Reich deftly stages the three stories, and the talented de Jose is a crackerjack storyteller, effectively swapping costumes, personas, and accents throughout the evening. Despite all of its theatrical merit, the show still can't help having a literary feel; but the intimate space at the Berkeley City Club, along with the evening's overall succinctness, suits the literary gesture well.

 
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