Evelyn Dunbar and Other Comedies: Five One Woman Plays by Josie Peterson is a collection of comedic monologues that act as short one-woman shows. In the collection, you’ll find an overworked waitress in a restaurant run by characters from Wuthering Heights, a classical music DJ who can’t stay on topic, a faded screen legend, and other eccentric, yet eloquent, characters.
These are challenging monologues that could be hit or miss with the wrong actress. Obviously, that’s the case with any theatre piece, but this is especially true for one-woman monologues as linguistially compact as these. There’s so much information in each monologue, with so few places for pausing, that it could veer to monotony without the right mixture of comedic and dramatic flair. This is especially true in “Evil Baby Jane,” in which the play is meant to be played by one actress performing the roles of both mother and child.
On the page, however, it reads well – each short play reads like fiction, yet comes alive as you read as only good theatre can. Each voice is distinct, as if written by a different playwright, meaning each character has a strength all its own. The monologues have an appealing conversational quality, without relying on being overly political or raunchy, and achieve being both down-to-earth and lyrical. A quirky collection of monologues that are at once accessible and challenging.