Play With Extremely Long Title Proves to be Short and Sweet

Cone Man Running Productions is proud to present


Directed by Ruth S. McCleskey

Review By H.G. Welch

In addition to being rather entertaining, The Cindy Variations by Patterson Dempsey Valdez Starring Cindy Peshek as Herself is also a contender for the longest play name in history. It's an unorthodox bit of theater, less of a play and more of a monologue paused briefly so other people can talk. It's quirky, it's often silly and it does succeed in making you laugh, largely because of the talent of the lead actress.

Whitney Zangarine stars as the title character Cindy Peshek, a semi-professional actress who is stressed over the many things she finds lacking in her life. Specifically a lack of height, cleavage and more importantly a meaningful relationship. She is ever present as she narrates her story from her early preteen years until her mid twenties, in an almost manic fashion. Zangarine steps up to the task of the rapid fire dialogue, and plays the audience like a fiddle, personally interacting them frequently. The fourth wall does not exist in her universe.

The ensemble consists of Yunina Barbour-Payne, Bob Galley, Aaron Garrett, Andraes Hunt, and Helen Hurn. Together the five of them combine to play 39 characters, with Garrett alone playing 14 different roles by himself. The majority of the characters are just bit parts, but each actor does have a character that is more than just a one line walk on. They are ever present, filling in gaps in Cindy's narrative, with her brisk banter meaning many of the actors change characters in the space of a few seconds. It's an unusual method, but it's quirky enough to work.

Under the direction of Ruth McCleskey the play moves at a healthy pace, and doesn't slow down for much. It's Zangarine's show, and she proves it. Her interactions involve having conversations with the audience, keeping them on their toes with candy randomly thrown at them, and in keeping with the character constant requests for affirmations. McCleskey keeps the physical comedy fresh and constant with Cindy's frequent misdirection when she switches interactions between the ensemble and the audience.

The Cindy Variations makes for a good date excursion. It's not long in the run time, and the subject matter is fairly light. There is a lot of sex talk, none of it raunchy, but the innuendo is ever present. Cindy herself is hard not to like with her plucky attitude and free candy.

The Cindy Variations runs through September 3rd at the Obsidian Theater at 3522 White Oak in the Heights. Tickets are $18.

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