Dance. Humor. Poignancy. Grace. These are all part of “RIPE” – a one-woman show that speaks to all women… and men, too. The play had its world premiere on October 19, 2012 at the Greenway Court Theatre in Los Angeles.
I’ve always thought a lot of one-person shows are self-indulgent. Why is it everyone thinks that their story is fascinating? Sometimes they can be, because the truth is everyone has interesting things in their family history. But not everyone knows how to tell it and make it supremely entertaining.
Enter Wendy Hammers.
Wendy’s story is a simple one. Unlike many one-person shows that draw you in because of their subject matter, this show isn’t special because it’s about a famous person or a historical event. No, Wendy’s story is special because it's universal. What's more, it's special in the “telling.”
RIPE is not only Wendy’s story; it’s every woman’s story. She talks about her body and self-image; romance and love; marriage and motherhood. She goes through disappointment and divorce; dating and sex. Oh yeah, and sex, sex and more sex. And finally, remarriage… and HAPPINESS!
Wendy is an actress, dancer and comedian who is totally un-self-conscious in displaying herself, her emotions, and her body – which is not perfect… and yet, as we come to learn throughout the evening – is ABSOLUTELY perfect.
At the beginning, she bends over so that only her legs and BUTT are showing. Her big booty does a monologue. It’s hysterical as it tells us, “Thank goodness for J Lo!” Wendy calls herself “Jew-lo.”
One of the memorable scenes has slides of young, skinny supermodels projected on a backdrop as Wendy dances with her slightly-less-than-svelte body – and her ample booty – moving and undulating in front of them. It’s a wow!
Both thought-provoking and full of laughs, the play is an homage to her friend, comedian Judy Toll, who passed away – and whose passing reminded Wendy to “live life” to the fullest. As they traveled through Wyoming and Montana to appear at comedy venues, Judy advised Wendy to dump her “slow” husband, and embrace the “juicy” in life.
Later, after Judy got cancer and her body passed to the angels, Wendy realized she had to stop worrying about the size and shape of her body – it was perfect as it was here on earth and meant to be enjoyed and cherished, no matter the size or shape.
This is a one-woman show that utilizes the entire stage. Wendy dances and prances across it, with modern dance and hip hop moves, then even does a cartwheel at the ripe old age of 52. At the end of the show, the backdrop shows slides of redwood trees, the ocean, and aboriginal women reminding us that “old” is indeed beautiful! And radiant flowers show us that variation and differences are beautiful, as are the differences in every woman!
Wendy is a comic actress who uses her physicality and voices to tell the story of her life and the people in it. One of the highlights is when she puts a hood on her head and “becomes” her teenage son Griffin playing video games. She sends him to a camp where he detoxes from Angry Birds, and instead sees real birds. She also becomes her grandmother Gussie, her ex-husband, and her new hubby as he proposes to her.
Always lively with unexpected surprises, the story is enhanced by the clever use of transformative props, pictures and music. The scene with a hat rack illustrating Wendy’s sexual escapades as a divorcee at age 40 is brilliantly staged and fiercely funny. This is a testament to the direction by Karen Aschenbach.
One-person shows don’t often have the kind of movement and scope that RIPE does. Karen has directed and choreographed it so that it keeps moving every second. Wendy dances throughout the entire piece, keeping us smiling, laughing, and emotionally captivated all the way through.
After her many sexcapades, from a 27-year-old, to a slew of African American lovers, to the Fed Ex man – Wendy takes a break one day to buy a car… and guess what? She ends up marrying the car salesman!
It’s so simple a thought. When you “stop looking” is when you get found. Or in this case, Wendy reveals – when you are RIPE, you get “picked.”
Actress, comedian and playwright Wendy Hammers has been “ripe” for the picking in show business for a long time. She has appeared on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Sopranos,” and “The Bernie Mac Show” and has done comedy on “Oprah” and “The Late, Late Show” with Craig Ferguson, as well as at clubs in LA, Atlantic City, Tahoe, and Vegas.
Part stand-up confessional; part booty shakin’ biography, RIPE is an examination of life re-invented midstream, and a reminder that the time to celebrate our bodies… and our lives… is right now.
Simply stated, RIPE is a peach of a show!
RIPE -- A Juicy Dance with Words
Greenway Court Theatre
544 N. Fairfax Avenue,Los Angeles,CA
October 19 – November 11; Fri & Sat 8 pm; Sun at 7 pm
Info and Tix: 323.655.7679 X100