Review: The Crackpot Crones offer free professional theatre with ‘Crones for the Holidays’ (***)

(Charles Kruger)

(Rating: ***)

This reviewer is a voting associate member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)
This reviewer is a voting associate member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

(“Crones for the Holidays” plays without charge at The Exit Theatre through December 29.) 

Just how cracked are these pots? When the company of “Crones for the Holidays” realized that many of their friends and fans could not afford the price of professional theatre, they declared that the run of their show at The Exit Theatre would be free. Not “pay what you can”, mind you. FREE. A gift, period. How many professionals do that? It’s outrageously courageous or courageously outrageous, however you want to look at it. But these gals are no strangers to the unexpected.

They are not just professional comedians, but seriously committed feminist lesbian activists. (And some people would seriously like to commit them.) They have been active in the political theatre world since the early 1970s, when Terry Baum founded the women’s theatre collective Lilith. She then collaborated with the other crone-to-be, Carolyn Myers, on the original play “Dos Lesbos: A Play By, For and About Perverts”. More recently Terry has run for Congress on the Green Party ticket as well as for Mayor of San Francisco.

The Crackpot Crones, Carolyn Myers (l) and Terry Baum (r) are "Crones for the Holidays" at The Exit Theatre.
The Crackpot Crones, Carolyn Myers (l) and Terry Baum (r) are “Crones for the Holidays” at The Exit Theatre.

Her crony Carolyn Myers has performed with The Hamazons (a women’s improvisational troupe) and spent many years directing Planned Parenthood’s Teen Theatres in Southern Oregon.

To put it succinctly: when it comes to activist theatre, these cranky crackpots crank.

The current production features seven comedic sketches and improvisations of varying quality, but always professional throughout. Two musical numbers: “Frosty the Snowden-Manning” and “The Twelve Days of Family Insults” are cute and pointed, and a couple of improvised sequences were moderately funny at the performance I attended.

But the two highlights, “The Version Mary” and “Renegade Red Hanky Grannies” are laugh till you cry funny. This Mary manifests sympathetically to a rape victim, explaining that she is herself a regularly attendee at a self help group for “women who have been raped by gods” and sets out to tell her story, twelve-step style. Its very funny and genuinely edgy.

The “Renegade Red Hanky Grannies” are oldies but goodies who successfully break into the Pentagon and set out to reprogram the computers. It’s hot stuff.

All of these shenanigans benefit from the able direction of Velina Brown, a Bay area stalwart as actress and director, and longtime member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. She knows exactly how to handle this material.

There will be three more performances December 28 (3 and 8 pm) and December 29. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and the performances are FREE, but please reserve your seats here or phone 800 833 3006.

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“Crones for the Holidays” by Terry Baum & Carolyn Myers, produced by The Crackpot Crones. Directed: Velina Brown. Set Design: Vola Ruben. Light Design: Stephanie Johnson. Sound Design: Pam Higley. Costumes: Val Von.

Performed by Terry Baum & Carolyn Myers.

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