Review for TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE, performed at Don't Tell Mama 11/16 and 11/19
by John Amodeo
In absurd real life situations, two phrases come immediately to mind: "If it weren't' true, it wouldn't be so funny," and "You just can't make this stuff up!" Both of these come to mind when watching cabaret comedienne Lori Funk's hilarious one-woman show, "Two truths and a lie", and could serve as subtitles to her show, which she performed at Don't Tell Mama this past weekend. Funk weaves a semi-autobiogrpahical tale along a thread of mostly truths mixed with the occasional lie in a non-stop journey from childhood to where she is today, through the eyes and voices of other characters, real and fictional, from her life story. To further stir the pot, her poster declares that her "lies aren't nearly as original as her truths," and that, my friends, is truth in advertising.
Funk is cut from the same cloth as a litany of great singing comediennes, from Martha Raye and Nancy Walker, to Kaye Ballard and Carol Burnett, the latter of whom she most resembles with her elastic expressions and comic characterizations. Music director Steven Katz kept the narrative on point, while director Warren Kelley kept the pacing brisk without sliding off the rails. One minute Funk is sultry Catwoman, the next, a wood-splitting lesbian, completely transformed with only minimal help from props or costumes. Adept at both monologue and song, she uses both to great narrative, comedic and dramatic effect, having you doubled over with laughter one minute, and wiping away a tear the next. If you think Funk is hiding behind her humor as most comics do, you would be very wrong. In fact, while you are splitting your sides, you hardly realize that very slowly, Funk is shedding layers, like Salome doing the Dance of the Seven Veils, until, by the end, she has laid her life bare, and touched each and every one of us with her disarming trust and honesty. You just can't make this stuff up.
John Amodeo is a contributing entertainment correspondent to Cabaret Scenes Magazine and Edge Publications.
Lori's theatre credits include: Off Broadway: THREE ON A COUCH at The SoHo Playhouse, LOOKING FOR THE PONY at The Vital Theatre, THIRST: A SPELL FOR CHRISTABLE for First Light Theatre Group at HERE, TUNNEL OF LOVE for the Drama League DirectorFest at HERE. Off-Off Broadway and Regional: SPRING AWAKENING for The Culture Project, world premiere of BARGAINS AND BLOOD: HOW TO SUCCEED AT HOME SHOPPING! (2009 FringeNYC Overall Excellence Award for Outstanding Ensemble), BABY WITH THE BATHWATER for the Chekhov Theatre Ensemble, OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD, DINING ROOM, CINDERELLA, VAMPIRE LESBIANS OF SODOM, TAMING OF THE SHREW, and more.
Films include: Plugged In, Dirty Moonie, Bert's Plan, Eden Court (with Tom Lennon and Kimberly Williams), 13th Child (with Cliff Robertson and Christopher Atkins). Television credits include: "Law & Order," "Law & Order: SVU," As the World Turns," "Snap Judgment."
Lori has written and performed sketch comedy at Caroline's, Gotham, and Westbeth, appeared in national commercials (one of which was directed by Spike Lee), and recorded numerous voice overs. She also added motion capture to her credits, playing Miss Danvers in Rockstar Games "Bully." Her one-woman show "Two Truths and a Lie" was last seen at Don't Tell Mama.
When you’re in the audience at a play about breast cancer, you don’t expect to laugh a lot. Or to enjoy the sweet taste of victory. But when the health-insurance-company lady (Lori Funk) and the patient’s lawyer (Debargo Sanyal) in Andrea Lepcio’s top-notch "Looking for the Pony" do battle - literally, with wrestling holds - spontaneous applause tends to break out...The lead characters’ moral perfection is offset, sometimes hilariously, by the assortment of men and women played by Ms. Funk and Mr. Sanyal. Among the most memorable are Lauren’s colorful elderly patient Saul and her chronically weepy assistant who, while everyone around her is sinking, bursts into tears over a misplaced calendar. That may not sound funny, but it is. Anita Gates - New York Times (CRITIC’S PICK)
The cast of four includes the versatile Debargo Sanyal and Lori Funk, who flesh out multiple characters, alternating satire with heartfelt sincerity. Notable are Sanyal’s comic turns as Dr. Wroteabook and a preening wig salesman, and Funk’s touching Brenda. Karl Levett - Backstage (CRITICS PICK)
Everyone else in Looking for the Pony - doctors, nurses, cancer patients, rabbis, etc. - is portrayed by two apparently superhuman actors, Debargo Sanyal and Lori Funk, who switch clothes and personas with astonishing rapidity and precision. Martin Denton - nytheatre.com
This "noise" is portrayed by the other two actors, the hard-working, costume-whirling, accent-spinning Debargo Sanyal and Lori Funk, who play a wild assortment of supporting characters with gusto. Together, they offer a grab bag of Saturday Night Live-worthy caricatures that parade across the austere set...Funk is pitch-perfect as Lauren’s harried, over-anxious assistant, who shakes like a leaf at any mention (or passing thought) of her boss’s disease. Amy Krivohlavek - Curtain Up
BARGAINS AND BLOOD
(2009 FringeNYC Overall Excellence Award for Outstanding Ensemble)
Let me say that the cast is among the strongest you’ll hope to find at the Fringe. Comedy, as any actor will tell you, is much harder to pull off than drama, as pitch and timing are as crucial as characterization. In Fell’s hands, there are moments of laugh-out-loud brilliance. Lori Funk, who, amazingly enough, was only cast a month ago, shines with her physical antics. You can’t watch her without thinking of Carol Burnett. David Kennerley - Gay City Times
It’s a fun 90-minute romp, and makes the most of a cast that’ll do anything for a laugh...The actors are more than game, and deliver lines such as "How could you possibly sell when our love had deep-fried himself to death?!?" (an actual event) at a fever-high pitch. Elisabeth Vincentelli - New York Post
There’s rubber-faced, Linda Gray-ringer Lori Funk, who plays Patti Pucci, the zebra-skinned grand dame of the EOT Home Shopping Network... The farce is broad in Blair Fell’s latest white trash opus, Bargains and Blood (How to Succeed in Home Shopping), but succeed he does in putting together one of the funniest and darkest shows in this year’s Fringe Festival. Tony Phillips - Edge
Turns out Lady’s a natural, much to the chagrin of her co-host Patti Pucci (a rather frighteningly believable Lori Funk) who isn’t quite ready to pass off the torch—or her man. The cast creates characters who, though it’s impossible not to stereotype, are also impossible to not laugh at. The various quirks and ticks of the characters come through without blatant mockery of the very real people comprising the home shopping industry. J. Jordan - nytheatre.com
THIRST: A SPELL FOR CHRISTABEL
Enid (the personable Lori Funk, who was so terrific in "Looking for the Pony" this year) turns out to be something between a wicked-stepmother figure and an all-out demon. Anita Gates - New York Times
The suspense and fear evoked by this scene and much of the work can be credited to Funk’s skillful portrayal of Enid. She manages to imbue every line and expression with the implication of malicious intentions. Adrienne Urbanski - The Villager
What follows is a farce that is immensely engaging and proves once again that Off-Broadway has just as many gems as the Broadway circuit. Directed by Elena Araoz in the 199-seat theater, each actor brings something unique and special to their roles...In Miriam, Lori Funk brings a resplendent film-noir quality to her over-the-top "widow" with her own designs for avenging the betrayals of her "deceased" husband. Whether it’s Funk’s excessive blinking, the manner in which Pinter majestically wraps a scarf around his neck, or Frazier’s circus-like balancing on an ordinary wooden stool, the physical comedy works as effectively as any of the spoken dialogue. Jim Halterman - EDGE
I think it important to note that this play is a comedy and one of the funnier I’ve seen on stage in a long time. Djerassi’s play expertly mixes the genres film noir, commedia dell’arte, and broad farce into a hilarious cocktail of theatre. The cast is firing on all cylinders as well. Imagine Leslie Nielsen married to Carol Burnett, with a young Richard Dreyfuss as their psychiatrist. Mark Pinter (best known for his work on All My Children and Another World) plays the megalomaniacal author to the film noir hilt, while still finding room for some well-placed clowning. Lori Funk plays Marx’s estranged trophy wife like a boulder rolling downhill; once she gets started, nothing can stop her short of the curtain call. With two such powerful actors onstage, a third actor might be overshadowed completely. Unless that actor is Brad Frazier. Three On A Couch is only around for four weeks, and if you miss your chance to see it, seek professional help. Peter Schuyler - nytheatre.com (Critics Pick)
It’s the performances that put the show over the top, and director Elena Araoz makes the most of her cast’s considerable chops...Miriam is the show’s true comedic center, and the role gives Lori Funk the chance to really go to town. All self-dramatizing poses and elegantly arched nostrils, her Miriam comes off like a less dissolute American cousin of Joanna Lumley’s Patsy on Absolutely Fabulous - a glamorous monster with a kind of undefined, all-consuming voraciousness. Plus she can peel a mango like nobody’s business. A.J. Mell - Backstage (Critics Pick)
ALL MY SONS
Lori Funk’s portrayal of the disenchanted late 1940s housewife neighbor is dead-on... Diana Calderazzo - TheaterOnline.com
DURANG BY THE DOZEN
The third piece introduces us to the supremely gifted Lori Funk, in a spoof of the self-deprecation of female comedians. Her monologue allows the performer to impressively exercise both her comic flair and her acting chops. Funk later proves herself an adroit physical comedian in the Ozzie-&-Harriet-gone-to-hell satire John & Mary Doe, and she darn near steals the show with her portrayal of a bottom-feeding TV exec in the finale, Business Lunch at the Russian Tea Room. Since that piece mocks Hollywood’s corrupting influence on theater artists, I know there’s tremendous irony in my saying this, but: Get this gal a sitcom-or at least an audition for Saturday Night Live! Adrienne Onofri - Off-Off Broadway Review
The highly appealing Lori Funk, George Eide, and Ted Brunson stole the show as the three pulcinellas, their strong physicality and lush, sensual energy serving as a stalwart anchor to the often outlandish goings-on. Doug DeVita - Off-Off Broadway Review
OUR COUNTRY’S GOOD
The actors, most of whom work together in the Lightning Strikes ensemble, all give first-rate performances, and it is difficult to single anyone out, but special praise is due Lori Funk as Liz Morden, [etc...] Lucy Komisar - Editor, American Reporter Theater Review
FASTER THAN THE SMELL OF FISH
Lori Funk, new to New York from Chicago, plays a wide variety of neurotics with great energy and aplomb, especially as a superhero’s sidekick that’s been mistaken for a boy lo these many years. Noel Katz - Online Review
Naughtyville is a Romeo and Juliet-style love story about feuding white-trash families Nice and Naughty, featuring creepy David Lynchesque characters (Lori Funk’s homicidal Mamie Ruthmore is a standout) and music. Miriam Jacobson - L.A. Weekly
Funk makes the most of the thin material; there’s a Carol Burnett flair to her timing and her daffy characterization. L.S. - Frontiers Magazine
CHILDREN OF STRANGELOVE
One standout in the cast: Lori Funk as the Twinkie-obsessed Bootlicker. Teresa Wiltz - Chicago Tribune
T’HELL WITH THE LADDER
More interesting are the quirky characters [the three heroes] encounter, like...Lori A. Funk’s bitchy improv teacher (a savage impersonation of a prominent Chicago figure). Adam Langer - Chicago Reader
Stepsisters Mozzarella (who will do anything for a pizza) and Tarrentella (a wanna-be ballerina with two left feet) are the highlight of the show. Their colorful garb and endless chain of verbal jabs are entertaining even without the favorite fairy tale as their backdrop. They’re played by Amber J. Lawson and Lori A. Funk. Sandy Bosch - Associate Editor, Chicago Sun Times
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