She's Not Well
nytheatre.com review by Ishah Janssen-Faith
August 12, 2007
As a one-woman show about the evils of show business, She's Not Well has certainly found its audience. The night I went, the house seemed to adore Debbie Troché at every turn. Even after the show, I heard people gasping for breath and proclaiming their love for this performer. She is certainly a charmer, and well-versed in creating distinct characters with only the aid of a red shirt here or black pants there. I enjoyed watching how she would do a two-person scene, and she constantly surprised me, switching the methods used each time.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, let's go back to the story at hand.
This is a story of two young starlets who meet in a chorus line and each go on to make it big in her own way, only to be brought down by the evils of various cold medicines. Clever direction by the writer Ted Baus makes this constant battle with "drugs" a funny visual trick that progresses as the play goes on. The clever staging tricks don't stop there. At every turn, we are treated to fun new ways to portray each outlandish situation with just one woman and a prop. Don't get me wrong, there are many props, and many costumes, but not one is extraneous and they are all used with such skill and grace, you want more not less. It's like a circus act to see what Troché will use next and how.
This is an oft-told story of the underbelly of show business, about the toll fame takes on the stars. We have all seen and heard about stars getting hooked on various legal and illegal drugs and ruining their careers. And then there's the comeback. The story is not new. Seeing one woman play both women in this situation, along with their agent and their husbands, is a fun way to tell an old story.
They use a fabulous soundtrack to allow Troché to don the voices of the great dames of yore in fun and kitschy dance numbers. I guess it's a cross between a drag show and a one-woman show, where the woman is real and the songs are lip-synched. Whatever you want to call it, the people ate it up like candy. I think it would do well on a tour. Everyone loves a song and dance number with a twist.