nytheatre.com review by Lucile Scott
August 22, 2009
Quarterlife Cycle is the autobiographical story of writer and solo performer Amy Claussen, who ran away from life with her father in Indonesia at age 15 to live with her mother in the U.S., and then returned at age 20 to see her father and stepmother, who she describes as an Indonesian Barbie, and her stepsisters, after not speaking to them in years. The show is written in an almost prose-like storytelling format, a bit like an episode of the NPR radio show This American Life.
Claussen is an engaging performer, and the show has many memorably touching and funny lines. It brings up several interesting themes about the racist, classist aspects of Indonesian culture established during colonial days and Claussen's complicated relationship with that culture after growing up there with all the privileges of a wealthy white woman and also about how her background living in two countries makes her feel that she does not truly belong anywhere, in America or in Indonesia.
In one scene that takes place at her college in Pittsburgh, she asks if she is incapable of connecting with people because of her childhood of privilege, an intriguing question the audience would like to see explored. Unfortunately, these themes of race and class are brought up, but never really flushed out. Claussen stands over six feet tall and weighs 200 pounds and the majority of the play is about her body image and how it contributes to her feeling of alienation. While we can all sympathize with the angst of being young and coming to terms with your body and where you fit in the world, the play fails to effectively weave this into larger themes about culture and race or her relationship with her family. Also, at 90 minutes, it is much longer than it needs to be.