Theater

Ann Randolph: A woman of many moods
photo: Carol Rosegg
Ann Randolph: A woman of many moods

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Squeeze Box
By Ann Randolph
Acorn Theater
410 West 42nd Street, 212.239.6200

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Autobiographical solo performance artists tend to share a cluster of symptoms that suggests an as yet unnamed psychiatric diagnosis—miserable childhood, odd career, and unprompted confessions, peaking in a dramatic moment of clarity. Glossing over the early family phase, Ann Randolph's Squeeze Box provides such a by-the-numbers case study that you can break it down by DSM-IV criteria: Subject, an $8.60-an-hour graveyard-shift counselor at a Santa Monica homeless shelter for mentally ill women, experiences burnout (309.28 Adjustment Disorder With Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood). She quits her job and runs for the hills (312.3 Impulse-Control Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) to try to find herself (313.82 Identity Problem). She returns to her accordionist boyfriend, to whom she's attracted because of his resemblance to Jesus Christ (302.81 Fetishism), has an epiphany listening to his solo arrangement of Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring, and learns a Valuable Life Lesson from a schizophrenic crack-addict client (292.12 Cocaine-Induced Psychotic Disorder, With Hallucinations). Subject avoids cheap laughs and melodrama (301.5 Histrionic Personality Disorder) while failing to inform us why we should care (301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder), yet audience can't help being moved by her poignant, often funny story (297.3 Shared Psychotic Disorder).

 
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