Get Cultured — November 19, 2014 at 3:20 pm

“A Kind Shot” Aims Deep but Barely Scratches the Skin


Terri Mateer

Last night, on a cold NYC evening, I venture to the Lower East Side of this beautiful city to watch a one woman show. The show is called A Kind Shot,” which came with some buzz from the very important Fringe Festival, and it was located in the well known theater the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I was excited for two reasons: one – I wanted to see this show. Two – I’ve never been to this venue despite knowing about it for years and plenty of friends doing shows. By the end of the night I had done both, but only one stuck with me. The venue was everything I expected, an edgy urban safe haven for artists from all parts of the city. The show itself, though it wasn’t disappointing, did not light the fire I thought it could.

Don’t get me wrong, Terri Mateer bares her soul on stage for us. She goes into her life with confidence and takes command of her audience with complete ease. She is funny, charming, and interesting at the same time, without even trying. But you know what they say about too much of a good thing? Let’s start with the show itself, which delves deep into her life from when she was little and had to struggle growing up until the time she has grown and decides to take control of her life. The show is honest, it has an affecting care to its words, and the story is told to you like you are talking to a friend at a bar. For this kind of event, that all makes sense. Her acting was appropriate for the script, and the direction was simple enough that nothing distracted from the product. The venue fits Terri’s confessional perfectly, making it more intimate for her and her audience and perfect for the actor to be able to get to your emotions and take complete control of them. All of these are good things…so why is it that I sound like I have a problem with the show? Let me recap the experience for you.

As I sat down, waiting for the show to start, I saw Terri going around introducing herself to everybody. She was vivid and welcoming and as I said, very confident and charming. She exudes it. The problem is, when you do this, you have to make sure the show itself is bombastic. If you are giving us a performance already in the audience, when the show starts you are just there telling a story. Which is exactly what it felt like. Like a bard in the middle of a crowd, telling her heartbreaking, but uplifting story.

As the show started, I didn’t know if she was talking to her friends in the audience or everybody. As the show finally settled, and it was understood she took us on this journey with her. Her story is one of ups and downs, of men taking advantage of her naivety. Of how to keep going when the world has betrayed you. Of how to feel special when the world itself makes you feel strange. She did all that right on the center of the stage, with a spotlight on her. And while this is all very admirable, I think the lighthearted approach she uses the whole show was a poor decision. She touches upon sexual harassment, which she has dealt with all her life, and while what was being said was serious, she never made it feel uncomfortable. Things were said quickly, experiences were barely explored, and the emotions were little, since she didn’t treat it as serious as it should have been. Maybe she is trying to defend herself from showing total vulnerability, but that’s exactly what this show needed. The light-fun way of telling the story could have been contrasted by harsh emotional revelations, which would have elevated the simple production even more. The revelations were there, they just remained as superficial as possible, barely scratching below the surface of such events. What happens then is that while there’s plenty of laughter, there’s not enough to make it memorable. In a day and age where theater productions struggle to catch on, and social issues are discussed more openly, a tame show like this will barely register with those looking for more ground-breaking projects.

This all could have been helped, too, if the production values were a bit higher. I’m not saying a huge Broadway budget, but make it feel like an actual show. I usually love small productions that keep it simple and tell a story. I felt like there was barely any effort on production here. Costume design was non-existent, there was one light on her, and one prop. The prop, when used, worked, but it was only used once or twice. The light being stagnant the whole time did not work, as it felt more of a background image than a spotlight. The random music that came on in one scene just alluded to the fact that there had been no sounds to that point.

So why should I watch this? Is this a show or a therapy session where the patient refuses to say too much? Many shows have used this bare style to great results, in here it felt like a distraction. Her performance though is worth the price of admission. I sincerely think there’s a great show in there, but it is not the one I watched. Hopefully it will be there when I give it a second chance. When it comes back up, look for a “A Kind Shot” by Terri Mateer. Maybe then the show will be closer to the amazing potential it has.

Twisted Talk: What’s the last show you saw in the city? Will you be on the lookout for Terri’s next show? Discuss below!

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