Let Me Down Easy

Dave and I saw Anna Deveare Smith’s new one-woman show Let Me Down Easy at Berkeley Rep last night, and it’s terrific, both the writing and the performance. The show is a series of vignettes in which Ms. Smith portrays a number of people talking mostly about their experiences with hospitals, illness, and death; the words are taken from actual interviews Ms. Smith made with them. Several of them are well known — Lance Armstrong and the late Ann Richards, for example, both talking about how their lives had been changed and shaped by battles with cancer — and others are not — a doctor at a hospital in New Orleans talking about the days after Katrina, for example, trying to give her patients the best possible care while waiting for help that never came. Both the words in the vignettes and Ms. Smith’s portrayals are wonderfully vivid and lively, taking delight in the variety of strengths, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies her characters display.

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