Writer: Sheila Carrasco
Director: Margaux Susi
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
For many women, it can feel as though in a given day, we are called on multiple times to be someone else. Someone more caring, assertive, flirtatious, professional, tough, maternal, brash, accommodating… any number of things. Sometimes the pressure to change who we are comes from those around us. Others, it’s an internal impetus.
Sheila Carrasco explores the complexities of this identity issue with Anyone But Me, a one-woman show streaming online via IAMA Theater Company. In a traditional blackbox-style performance (complete with costume element changes in dimmed lighting and visible transitions between scenes, something that has not been a feature of many online shows), Carrasco sweeps through a variety of personas, all women struggling with how to define their sense of self when it seems everyone else would prefer to do it for them. Cultural identity, age, socioeconomic status, social interaction, interpersonal relationships, and professional pressure are all unseen supporting characters in this show.
Under Margaux Susi’s direction, Anyone But Me is cohesive, specific, and holds the attention of someone watching on a thirteen-inch computer screen with ease. Carrasco brings laser-sharp specificity to each character; though there are commonalities, each woman is distinct. Somehow even the appearance of Carrasco’s face seems to change from person to person, though nothing has changed beyond her hairstyle (and maybe a subtle lighting shift). The thing that left this reviewer most impressed (largely because of her own feelings of who she should be) is how Carrasco leaned into awkward and embarrassing moments as these characters. No holds barred, her unflinching ability to lean into the cringe-worthy moments cemented the complexity and nuance of her performance.
One tonal anomaly in this show is an “Intermission” bit, where the show gets a bit meta as Carrasco takes on the role of an elderly woman in the audience carping about the play as if she is at a live performance. Carrasco’s campy performance is adept; but the scene in and of itself, particularly for such a short show (just over an hour), is a pivot that does not feel necessary for a play that otherwise feels like a deliberate and well-curated capsule.
Available Online Through 18 April 2021 | Photo Credit: Shay Yamashita