Listen Closely

E.G. Daily working her opening number.

Because of its autobiographical nature, one of the biggest risks in creating and performing a one-person show is its potential to degenerate from a work of art into an exercise in either vanity or therapy. Once a show has gone down this road, no amount of talent or charisma can save it. Without a compelling story at its core, the show has nothing to build upon - sound and fury with nothing to signify.

With all the trappings of an E! True Hollywood Story segment, E.G. Daily's one-woman show is a sometimes funny, occasionally incisive and overly clichéd slice of Hollywood life. As vibrant and animated as the characters she voices, Daily is a talented performer who's spent decades in the fast lane and lived to tell the tale. The problem is that we've heard it all before. As she chronicles the ups and downs of her life and prolific career, from her childhood dreams of stardom and the love and attention of millions to her adult search for the love of one person, Daily paints a picture of a life defined by everyone but the person living it.

Like so many of her prominent peers, Daily's lifelong quest for fame stemmed from her desire for the affection she never received as a child. From her days as Hollywood's It Girl in the '80s to her rocky music career, failed relationships and later success as the vocal talent behind "Rugrats," "The Power Puff Girls" and other animated hits, "Listen Closely" recounts Daily's journey down the yellow brick road to self-acceptance.

Recalling a tough domestic moment.

Drawing on her talents as a voice-over actress, Daily serves as the narrator for her life story with the help of her inner-child (who sounds strikingly similar to a "Rugrats" character), creating the other characters in her life with nothing more than a few scraps of clothing and her knack for impersonations. Daily's ability to interact with characters represented solely by her vocal chords is impressive, providing the show's few emotionally affecting moments - the tragic death of her boyfriend in a prop gun accident, the abuse at the hands of her former husband. She also occasionally uses these characters as platforms for dissecting Hollywood politics or the male psyche, but all too often dilutes her most biting analyses by retreating to the safety of her cartoon alter-egos. Though physically exposed on the stage, Daily uses the smoke and mirrors of her imaginary characters and a slew of hit-or-miss musical numbers to keep us from getting the complete picture.

Though her sense of humor and refusal to portray herself as a victim keep the show from devolving into soap opera melodrama, the show still feels more like a therapeutic exercise than stage drama. With so many of the important moments in her life filtered through imaginary characters we can't relate to, there's too little left to connect us to the woman herself. For all its glittery packaging - or maybe because of it - there are too few details inside to set it apart from the hordes of other sordid fast-lane tales, and in the end, "Listen Closely" so focused on Daily's own catharsis that there's simply nothing left for her audience. 

"Listen Closely" runs February 18 - March 27 at The Court Theatre.
Performances are Sat & Sun at 8:00pm, Sun matinees at 2:00pm.   

For more info on The Court Theater visit thier website at: www.hollywoodcourttheater.com

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