The Cole Kazdin Amnesia Project
nytheatre.com review by Michael Criscuolo
June 15, 2007
Cole Kazdin starts her new solo show, The Cole Kazdin Amnesia Project (I Don't Remember the Name of This Show), the only way possible: by forgetting her lines. It's the perfect beginning because it lets the audience know exactly what they're in for: lots of charm and clever humor. Charm, in fact, could be Kazdin's middle name. She may have lost her memory, but she still knows how to spin a good yarn.
Based on a true story, the Amnesia Project recalls Kazdin's developing the title ailment after a freak accident on the set of a non-union TV pilot (she tumbles from the top of a cheerleading pyramid, of all things—ouch!). When she comes to, she's in an apartment she doesn't recognize surrounded by people she doesn't know. But, they know her. Two of them say they're her parents. Another one is a guy with a hangdog look on his face (that's Tom, the guy who didn't catch her fall). And, there's another guy who may be Kazdin's boyfriend. Or was. Or maybe still is?
Kazdin humorously takes us on her journey back towards memory—and what a journey it is. Suffering from total memory loss, she has to re-learn everything with the help of a portable tape recorder she keeps at her side. (Example: she turns on the recorder to remind herself that "Amy is my friend who is slutty.") Of the brief moment she enjoyed before remembering that her arguing parents are divorced, Kazdin confides, "That was a nice couple of minutes."
Even her short term memory is affected. In a particularly effective scene, Kazdin brushes her teeth, puts the toothbrush down, then repeats the entire process several more times. In another instance, she calls for her board operator to cue the music, then forgets that she did so. "Why is this music playing?" she wonders before asking for it to be stopped. And, in perhaps the Amnesia Project's most inspired moment, Kazdin begins her story by accidentally performing a section from her previous solo show, My Year of Porn. "Oh. Wrong show," she remembers, then starts the correct play.
But, the Amnesia Project also has heart, which is most evident as Kazdin gets to experience the joyous thrills of falling in love and having sex "for the first time" all over again. It's this part of the story that hints at the play's larger, inspiring implications: our heroine's opportunity for a second chance at everything in her life.
Director Robert Cucuzza emphasizes Kazdin's strengths as a storyteller, and allows her every opportunity to play them up. She is a confident and engaging presence on stage, and she has gained more poise and control since the last time I saw her (in the Porn show). She is endearing and sassy. And, as I said before, very charming. She has the audience rooting for her all the way.
The Cole Kazdin Amnesia Project (I Don't Remember the Name of This Show) showcases its talented author and star at her best. It's a great boon for audiences that Kazdin has regained much of her memory, and I, for one, am most grateful for that. Welcome back, Ms. Kazdin.