(Ann Randolph in Loveland Photo: Teresa Wood)
As she struts up and down the imaginary aircraft cabin on the stage of Arena’s Kogod Cradle, Franny Potts (Ann Randolph) achieves a level of adorkable that dates back before Zooey Deschanel put on a pair of plastic frames. I’m not talking about today’s awkward yet cute look, I’m talking about an unfiltered mouth passionately spouting out factoids about America’s National Parks. I’m talking about a mouthful of adult braces and the lisp it causes. I’m talking about proudly and unabashedly being a dork because you love it and you don’t care what everybody else thinks.
The protagonist in Randolph’s Loveland reminded me of Molly Shannon’s Sally O’Malley character on SNL, down to Franny’s black stretch pants. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Potts spoke about her love of kicking, stretching, and kicking while shouting, “I’m 50!”
Loveland is a semi-autobiographical tale of humor, love, and loss. In this one-act, one-woman play, Randolph is awkwardly hilarious, occasionally endearing, and is very comfortable in her pair of stretchy pants.
The bulk of the show takes place on a cross-country flight where Franny is traveling to her hometown of Loveland, OH. A series of asides and flashbacks introduce a variety of other characters including Franny’s mother, a chain-smoking tour-de-force who is the source of Franny’s no-holds-bar attitude.
No topic is taboo for Potts, who openly opines over a possible soul mate in the flight’s Pilot and hilariously illustrates awkward situations when her sexual urges clash with her Yoga class or shopping trips to Whole Foods. A masterful storyteller, Randolph finds a good balance between awkward humor and poignant and cathartic moments.
Loveland is full of bite-sized moments that you will eat right up. The show’s theme of love and loss resonates with audiences to the point that Randolph offers post-show talkbacks to allow them to share their own experiences. As a short piece it gets the job done and as Randolph delightfully and sometimes painstakingly shares her experiences, it is a simply a solid piece of theatre.
Loveland performs at Arena Stage’s Kogod Cradle now through April 13th, 2014. Arena Stage is located at 1101 6th St SW, Washington DC 20024. Tickets start $25. For more information, call 202-554-9066.