nytheatre.com review by Kimberly Wadsworth
August 17, 2009
In 2007, actress Elizabeth Audley was between jobs and apartments, and seized the opportunity to take on one of the ultimate travel fantasies—she took a solo cross-country road trip. Her solo show, all over., is the story of that trip.
I once did the same thing, and can attest she hits a lot of the highlights of such a trip dead-on—the weird tourist-trap souvenirs, the precarious drives along mountain passes, the encounters with wildlife, coming up with a name for her car, it's all there. I nodded with recognition when she talked about lengthy conversations with strangers in youth hostels, or getting hilariously paranoid about a noise outside her tent, or standing awestruck in Utah's Zion Canyon. "The scenery there is supernatural," she marvels at one point, and I knew exactly what she meant.
But this isn't like watching someone's travel slideshow—even though Audley does indeed show some pictures from her trip, in video segments throughout. Alongside the travel stories, Audley also touches on the lonely and scary thoughts that come to you on the road, the kind that often make such a trip a transformative thing. "I had a lot of time to think in the car," she says midway through the show, and bravely goes on to discuss some of the things she thought about—like how exhausting a high adventure can get, or how frightening solitude can be, or how paralyzing it can be to simply make decisions. There comes a point when even just deciding on breakfast becomes tiring. Audley brought a tape recorder on the trip to record her thoughts, and there's a poignant moment when she plays a snip of herself from somewhere in Santa Fe sobbing that she just didn't want to drive any more; I nodded sadly, remembering a similar breakdown I had in front of a waitress somewhere in Kansas.
This isn't only a show for travel buffs, however. Audley is an engaging and funny storyteller, throwing herself into everything from demonstrating how to use bear repellant to re-living her physical reaction to drinking ten servings of Dr. Pepper in the middle of the desert. Her emotional journey is engaging as well, from her wide-eyed enthusiasm to her fear she couldn't finish the trip, to her re-awakened love for the country. I did want to hear a few more travel stories—her account of the last leg of her trip felt a bit rushed—but this could have been because she had so utterly tapped into what it feels like to be on the road that I was reliving my own trip and wanted to compare notes.
If you've ever driven "all over," or even just considered it, pay this show a visit. It's as close to actually hitting the road as you can get without leaving a theatre.
(And I'm not kidding about naming your car, either. Hers was"Timmy"; I called mine"Lolita.")