Teresa Thome’s ‘Warm Cheese’ is delicious

One-woman show explores love-hate relationship with mom

Review by John K. Adams

Ah! The joy of discovering that our parents were merely human and not monsters or worse! That revelation when we see them in full round, flawed but doing their imperfect best, makes us human too.

In Warm Cheese, the one-woman show staged for the Hollywood Fringe Festival, writer/performer Teresa Thome portrays her mother, often hilariously, as a darkly cynical hypochondriac with a list of maladies longer than many people’s resumes.

The title refers to the slices of individually wrapped, American cheese her mother kept ever ready in her purse to tide her daughter over until dinner. What? No Camembert?

Thome vividly describes the quest through her mother’s private effects and diaries for the secret “ultimate plan” which would put sense to her mother’s antagonistic mothering. En route, she discovers that the haunting we so fear does not stalk us “out there,” but inhabits our heads.

As we grope our way toward some semblance of clarity, it surprises us that another we meet on that dark path might be a parent. We come to realize our cherished perceptions and instincts for self-preservation are honed by the very people we once believed were antagonists.

The misperceived reality of children about the motives of their caretakers makes a sizeable sub-genre of literature. Thome’s poignant Warm Cheese is a welcome addition to that.

“Warm Cheese” is staged for the 2016 Hollywood Fringe Festival at Asylum, Studio C, located at 6488 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles. Show dates are Saturday, June 18th at 8pm and Sunday, June 26th at 2:30pm. Visit WarmCheese.com for more information.

Note: This review originally appeared in the Tolucan Times on June 18th, 2016.

Extended run: ‘Electricity’ makes connections at Two Roads Theater

by John K. Adams

Imagine you could only see or speak to the love of your life briefly, every 10 years, in a hometown hotel room. The pain of that loved one’s absence would be incomprehensible. Who would do that?

Playwright Terry Ray’s Electricity (on extended run) imagines that tortuous scenario spanning four decades for two gay men. They connect at their 10-year high school reunion and again each decade thereafter.

Brought to life via excellent performances from Terry Ray and Kevin Allen, this inverted “no exit” scenario becomes painfully plausible. Steven Rosenbaum’s direction of Ray’s script distills those four decades into four sparkling vignettes of lives transformed.

Gary (the fairy) Henderson (played by Ray) is the closeted, virginal 28-year-old, so in denial that he voted for Ronald Reagan – twice. After finally crossing that threshold, he cannot understand why he must still remain alone.

Brad Burke (Allen) embraces a different denial by preferring anonymous, hit-and-run sexual encounters to the uncertainty of actually falling in love. Does anyone “deal” with falling in love?

Brad maintains his emotional distance by pigeonholing his fellow reunion attendees as “fat, boring, alcoholic or slut.” “No expectations” is his mantra. He is surprised by the answer to his question: “What is the best thing about having AIDS?”

Electricity is a compassionate and clear eyed, if not sober, look at what living “the life” can do to the person living that life. This is an unsentimental view of gay life, far removed from the laugh-a-minute portrayals seen on sitcom TV.

Together, these polar opposites poignantly discover the electricity generated by being real and vulnerable for each other.

Technical credits are excellent.

Note: occasional, brief nudity.

“Electricity” is staged at the Two Roads Theater located at 4348 Tujunga Ave. in Studio City. The show is extended through August 14th. For tickets call (213) 265-7972 or visit BrownPaperTickets.com.

This review originally appeared on July 17th in the Tolucan Times.