Praise for Call Us Crazy
Back Stage West (Critic’s Choice)
Anne Heche may be a talented actor and an amusing media presence in a five-car-pile-up sort of way, but she’s a God-awful writer. At least that’s the point driven home by this unauthorized production of passages from Heche’s 2001 autobiography, Call Me Crazy. As imagined by creator/director Pamela Ribon and a talented cast of 14, this production parodies both the awfulness of Heche’s book and the pretentiousness of The Vagina Monologues by forming Heche’s ramblings into a series of increasingly ridiculous monologues. No matter how prepared you are for the wretchedness of Heche’s writing, you’ll still wince that someone published lines like: “I was disgustingly disgusting. I was grosser than gross.” Heche’s delusions are interspersed with interstitials of varying success. The short musical numbers by Adam Blau and Brently Heilbron are amusing and clever, but some passages–such as a surreal moment in which the actors toss tampons into the audience–seem solely designed to kill time.
There isn’t an Oprah-esque topic Heche doesn’t cop to. She’s a victim of sexual abuse. She has a direct pipeline to converse with God. She wakes up one morning with stigmata on her feet. She can heal sprained ankles with her hands. The absurdity of her tales is heightened by impassioned readings from the cast. Highlights include Liz Feldman’s furious phone conversation with Heche’s mother and Stephanie Markham’s rendering of Heche’s alter ego “Celestia.” Future shows are scheduled to include such celebrity guest monologists as Joan Van Ark and Mad TV star Alex Borstein.
The performers are talented and engaging, and the staging is imaginative. The main problem with the production comes down to Heche. Her story is repetitive and self-serving, and the horribleness of the prose can start to wear thin. It’s a Catch-22: The premise of the show limits the gifted performers to an awful script. The show, which runs about an hour and 20 minutes, could be shortened by 15 minutes. It also might seem cruel to some people to mock an individual who is so clearly disturbed. To those who find the concept a cheap shot, I would argue that Heche is a narcissist’s narcissist and would probably love the attention. Indeed she should be flattered such a witty ensemble made her story more entertaining than it deserves to be.
Los Angeles Times
Here’s an idea that, depending on your perspective, may seem inspired, redundant or just plain mean. It’s “Call Us Crazy,” in which 14 actresses perform comically overheated readings from the Anne Heche autobiography “Call Me Crazy.”
After a handful of pre-holiday performances at the Knitting Factory, the show has moved to the Hudson Avenue Theatre in Hollywood.
Heche’s 2001 book contains a detailed account of childhood sexual abuse as well as the actress’ now-famous description of her alter ego, Celestia, in the imaginary “fourth dimension.” “I believe that many people may think I went insane,” Heche writes. “I do not believe I am insane; I believe I went through a period of my life that was insane and it lasted thirty-one years.”
Created and directed by Pamela Ribon, the unauthorized show carves the book into themes, which have been shaped into monologues and assigned to actresses of varying character types. Off-kilter song-and-dance interludes are thrown in for good measure. The result is a humorous if less than sensitive evocation of a fragmented personality.
As in the book, much of the story emerges out of a climactic phone call in which Heche confronts her mother about the abuse. With open copies of the book before them, the actresses sink their teeth into the already purple prose. Change-ups in pitch and tempo render a line such as ” ‘Did you hear me?’ I asked calmly” into a cresting wave of hysteria, followed by the sudden return of even-tempered rationality.
Another section, about Heche’s sexual comfort level, veers into the territory of “The Vagina Monologues,” while Heche’s sidewalk conversation with God makes imaginative use of a sock puppet. Happily, one of the things handled with restraint is Heche’s relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, which is wordlessly rendered in a brief, bittersweet Charlie Chaplinesque encounter.
The performances are solid, the laughs plentiful. The rest depends on how you feel about Heche.
—Daryl H. Miller
Daily Bruin (4 Stars)
With a zeal matched in size only by the ego of her subject, writer/director Pamela Ribon has transformed Anne Heche’s autobiography into an evening of unapologetic hilarity.
The performance, billed as an adaptation of readings from Heche’s “Call Me Crazy,” is more an all-out assault on the bizarre and often inept observations of one of Hollywood’s nuttier actresses. There are readings, to be sure, but there are also dramatic reenactments and ambitious musical numbers. Cynthia Szigeti’s performance of the table of contents alone is worthy of genuine laughter.
This virtual cabaret of comedy would of course not work at all if it were not for the shockingly rich source material. Heche recounts the more memorable moments of her life – from kissing the most popular guy in town to spending 12 days listening to God teach her the secret language of messiahs – in a prose style completely devoid of nuance or sophistication.
Many of the actors in this production take full advantage of the humor to be had in Heche’s often unbelievable ramblings. Stephanie Markham, swathed in twinkle lights, is particularly effective as both Heche and her infamous other self, Celestia.
Not every story in “Call Me Crazy” is a gem; in fact, there are a few included in this performance which could have easily been left out. But a show that lasts only 80 minutes is certainly short enough as it is, and definitely packs enough laughs to make it worthwhile.