This is a past event.

Let Me Down Easy 

When: June 1-July 10 and Aug. 10-Sept. 4 2011
Price: $17-$73

After the success of her Pulitzer-nominated show Fires in the Mirror and Tony-nominated Twilight: Los Angeles, actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith became known for originating a certain type of journalistic solo performance. At sixty years old, she looks vibrant, speaks in a resonant female baritone, and still has an endlessly pliable body. Deavere Smith's new play covers the health care system, a topic broad enough to include politics, personal anecdotes, and philosophical musing. Over the course of two intermission-free hours, Deavere Smith reenacts twenty interviews with people ranging from dialysis patient Hazel Merritt to supermodel Lauren Hutten and a comically exaggerated version of feminist Eve Ensler. The characters are often plain-spoken, but their thoughts on the medical system are deeply poetic. Using an elaborate rhetoric of gesture to fill in the gaps within stories, Deavere Smith explores such issues as class disparity, mortality, racism, sexuality, and the perpetual decay of the human body. She opens a space for tenderness in a discussion that's normally tainted by fear. Director Leonard Foglia and lighting designer Dan Ozminkowski contributed to the success of this trenchant, intelligent production. Through July 10 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre (2025 Addison St., Berkeley). $17-$73. 510 647-2949 or

— Rachel Swan

4.8 out of 5

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