"It's important that we remember who we really are," cautions Violet, an aging patrician New Yorker, ruminating on her poodle's birthday party (and by extension, the passage of time itself). "No one else will."
Performance artist Heather Woodbury aimed to stave off that slide into oblivion, chronicling the adventures of Violet and more than 100 other characters in "What Ever," her sweeping, eight-act solo epic. Parlaying an ace reporter's eye for telling detail and a mimic's ear for nuances of dialect, Woodbury's ability to weave a rich tapestry of Americana is impressively evident in a pair of one-acts at the Evidence Room. Featuring unused segments originally developed for "What Ever," these Dudley Saunders-directed "outtakes" reflect divergent strategies for showcasing Woodbury's creations, with differing effectiveness.
"The Lost Christmas Episode," which opens the evening, mirrors the construction of "What Ever" as a whole--interlocking scenes tracing the sometimes parallel, sometimes interconnecting paths of Woodbury's characters during the Yuletide season. In addition to Violet, we drop in on Clove, a 'shroom-gobbling high school girl, a hitchhiking raver dude in a chance meeting with the pregnant Midwestern teen who picks him up, an ideologically splintered Virginia family desperately maintaining an amicable veneer through Christmas dinner, and a pack of shivering New York City prostitutes huddling around meager sparks of goodwill. Reminiscent of Robert Altman's "Nashville," these quick cuts evoke the sprawl of everyday life and keep the characters fresh.