Love. Guts. High School – How Jeanette Bonner Saved Her Own Show

One-man (or woman) solo shows are…well, they are not my thing really. Are they anyone’s thing? I mean, I like John Leguizamo’s shows in that autobiographical sense because he is a genuinely interesting (and hilarious) guy. Even so, his last Broadway outing, Ghetto Klown, was simply a ‘good’ show in the realm of things. That does not speak well of this brand of performance art, especially when his act is one of the most notorious around.

I am not sure that there really is an audience for solo shows in that sense (although, try telling that to the folks trying to make fetch Mike Tyson’s “show” happen). Love. Guts. High School, a Midtown International Theatre Festival submission now open at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, does little to change my perspective, but it was more enjoyable then it probably should have been.

Penned and starring Jeanette Bonner, she takes us on journey from her adolescence-to-adulthood, detailing the events of her longtime friendship-turned-crush-turned-hookup-turned-boyfriend-turned-ex Gabe. With vignette-style storytelling and only a few props at her disposal (a chair, a table and a bottle of water mostly), Bonner wavers the line between animated and neurotic to jaded and upset and everything in-between as her relationship with Gabe runs its course. 

I Has a Sad :(
Even though the story is familiar to the point of cliché, Bonner does a bang-up job injecting an ‘it’ factor into an otherwise, nondescript show. I wanted to be besties with her with only the one hour we spent together. In fact, I felt like her bestie on the other end of those phone calls and lunch dates throughout all of these vignettes. 

She deserves some credit for not making the show...well, it is self-indulgent, but not unbearably so and besides, that was to be expected. The show eventually strikes a cross between a cautionary tale and a coming-of-age story as it became less about her finding bliss in her life and more of a lesson in how to roll with life’s romantic challenges. Not to mention, her performance looked more and more organic and less play-acting (in a theatrical sense) as it progressed and that’s a good thing. Had she started pandering to the audience, it would have been too much. The story was nothing new – and you never lose sight of that fact - but the last thing it needed was someone acting pompously.

Love. Guts. High School may not have much else going for it other then its on-point star, but sometimes, that's all a theater guy or gal needs for a night's out. Bonner succeeded in doing that and regardless of the future of the show, she should be proud for lifting her blah material out of its doldrums and making a wonderful impression. She is someone to keep an eye on in the future.

Tickets Provided by the Press Agent

Photo Credits: LoveGutsHighSchool.com

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