Laughing Matters

If you miss the compelling irreverence of All In The Family, Good Times or In Living Color, here’s your chance to indulge.  There are only two weekends left to snag tickets to Nia Orm’s one woman, seven character show Please Take A Number at the Atlas Theater and here’s why this play and this actress is a can’t miss for DC.

We all have a mental rolodex when it comes to stereotypes about race or poverty.  This week, we’ve all probably muttered something to ourselves about the government’s responsibility or role as a service provider, particularly with respect to these two subjects.  Well, in the span of about an hour and a half, actress/comedian Nia Orms manages to address to all of those little quiet murmers or loud armshair accusations as she shapeshifts into six different characters waiting in a NY City welfare office.   Please Take A Number showcases Nia’s original writing and a unique blend of improvisational acting as she explores the variety of characters and archetypes that avail themselves of federal subsidies.  Josie, Nia’s flamboyant Latina actress declares triumphantly (in an accent straight from a salsa club dance floor), “I am a faboolus actdatess, I’ve bin conning deh welfare offeez for yeas!” and the entire play is just like that, one knee slapping “Aw! No she di-ent!!!” after the other.

Although it’s an understatement, DC and the country are in a flutter over the freshly passed half trillion dollars in spending, making Nia’s performance right on time.  Nia’s play provides audiences with a porthole into the psyches and spirits of those we often reference anecdotally from the safety of online chats, cubicle conversations or dining room tables.  Her startling yet fluid transformation between six completely different people reflects an intimate familiarity with the nuances of poverty, the burdens faced by service administrators and brings to light the subtle cultural biases we all harbor at times.

Delicate subjects are handled with a surgeon’s touch as Nia’s performance threads improv comedy with classic vaudevillian acting in a way that makes even an elderly crack addict funny, captures the humor of a white chicks’ crush on Obama and presents an escape from a foreign genocide camp a heroic portrait of American charity and grit.  Overall Nia is a female Dave Chappelle, which the world sorely needs given some dont think women can be funny, like EVER. (Though I love him, Chris Hitchen’s really overextends his polemicist wit with that one).

Several times a day we might find ourselves doing mental math to conveniently sum someone or something up quickly as we juggle life’s responsibilities.  I hadn’t been to an actual play in quite a while, as I had slipped into the lazy assumption that my job, laptop, “home theater” or daily interactions with people can provide the “experience” I need to assess the accuracy of my beliefs about people.  The intimacy of the beautiful new Atlas Theater on H St. and Nia’s award-winning satire reminded me of the power of the black box and I sincerely hope that all of you consider going- soon! Take me up on an invitation to witness this carefully crafted comedy live and in person one weekend this month, you’ll probably see me sitting in the back row with an amazed stare on my face.

There are a limited number of performances left to catch until the show closes on March 22nd so please click over and buy  your tickets now!

If you live for performances like this memorable moment, Nia's got your number.

If you live for performances like this memorable moment, Nia's got your number.

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