Bedlam Theater streams
a reading of Still Waiting
Play is based on the Dorothy Parker short story A Telephone Call
By Byron Toben
May 26, 2021
On May 14, New York’s Bedlam Theater streamed an 18-character version of Leo Tolstoy’s classic, Anna Karenina, as a one-night benefit. A week later, it balanced that busy production with a fine monologue benefit reading of Still Waiting, an adaptation of Dorothy Parker’s 1930s short story, A Telephone Call, by performer Zuzanna Szadkowski.
A chance for Ms. Szadkowski (a veteran of film and TV) to strut her stuff, aided by clever uses of a mirror and other multi-media as devised by Damon Milland and smoothly directed by Eli Rarely.
Ms. Parker (1893-1967) was well known as a poet, writer, critic and satirist as well as a founder of the fabled literary lunch crowd at the Algonquin Hotel. She co-wrote two plays, eight screenplays (including A Star Is Born) and had five short fiction collections as well as seven poetry collections.
She was blacklisted for her liberal causes during the Joseph McCarthy era but eventually honoured with a 29 cent stamp by the US postal service in 1992.
Still Waiting is basically a one-joke play, wherein the protagonist prays to God that a man she has met will call her at 5 pm, as promised (he never does) and goes through the decisions of not calling him or balancing her pleas that she really needs him with wishes that he was dead. A chance for Ms. Szadkowski (a veteran of film and TV) to strut her stuff, aided by clever uses of a mirror and other multi-media as devised by Damon Milland and smoothly directed by Eli Rarely.
The script does include a passage from Macbeth “to the last syllable of recorded time” and an allusion to Beckett’s Happy Days. All this put me in mind of the 1954 film Dial M For Murder with Ray Milland and Grace Kelly, based on a telephone call and, of course, the plays about waiting – Beckett’s 1953 Waiting for Godot and Odets’ 1935 Waiting For Lefty.
I plead guilty to being confused by the very beginning of the play where Ms. Zsadkowski flashed a book by L. Ron Hubbard (founder of Scientology) as somehow being relevant as was a brief appearance at the end of the “monologue” by talented Montreal-born Susanna Hoffman as another woman (perhaps a wife of the man who didn’t call?)
This one-night streaming was for the benefit of 18 Million Rising to promote communication with Asian Americans.
Looking forward to more shows by the ever-inventive Bedlam Theater.
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.