PANTHER HOLLOW – This Friday!

PH - Robin

This is Robin (not her real name). She’s one of the people I talk about in PANTHER HOLLOW. Once again, the amazing Ian August drew this picture.

Panther Hollow is this Friday (12/15/17) at Luna Stage. For tickets, go to http://www.lunastage.org

Below is a review of the show from last year when it was performed as part of Passage Theatre’s Solo Flights Festival.

From the Princeton Packet – Bob Brown

   “David Lee White’s Panther Hollow is a perfect example of going out on a limb. Mr. White, Passage’s associate artistic director, has written several plays that were produced by the company, but as far as I know, this is his first solo piece.

   And what a performance piece it is! Talk about terrifying, Mr. White does nothing less that get up on that stage with a chair, a table, a white-board, and two cups of water, then proceed to disrobe his psyche for the next 70 minutes. After an opening joke about suicide to loosen the crowd (ba-da-boom), he warns us that his story — all true — will contain 11 corpses, 8 suicides, 1 abused cat, and sex — the awkward and humiliating lack of it. It also offers up loads of self-deprecating humor.

   The story goes back to Panther Hollow, an other-side-of-the-tracks Pittsburgh neighborhood. There, Mr. White lived the life of quiet desperation familiar to all 25-year-old virgins. He informs us that Pittsburgh is a sort of “suicide central” whose many bridges are a constant temptation to the suicidally inclined. Mr. White punctuates his story with diagrams and photos that he pops onto the white-board.

   Interspersed with a history of obscure suicides, one of which he encountered by accident, Mr. White recounts his theater gigs. He directed the bloody Jacobean revenge tragedy The Duchess of Malfi, and he once filled in as a corpse for a performance of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound. He dives onto the floor to demonstrate the stifling posture he had to maintain through most of that play.

   He talks of his limited relationships with women. Among his acting students in years past had been a marvelous young woman, who kicked her cat across the room for peeing on her leather jacket. He had tentatively kissed her. And he developed an obsession with Elizabeth Wurtzel, whose alluring picture on the cover of her memoir Prozac Nation had aroused him enough to make some rash moves. But there is no sex on the horizon. “Constantly thinking of sex,” he says, “tends to dull your empathy.”

   He dips into his bouts of depression and the pain of loneliness. He decides that as diseases go, “clinical depression” has a PR problem. Why can’t it be called something like suicidal cogitatis? He toys with suicide methods that are appropriately theatrical. He explores self-cutting. And he enters therapy with a counselor, a woman who will (horrors!) likely probe his nonexistent sex life. Cognitive therapy follows, and prescribed drugs, which lift him out of depression and up to euphoria. They have given “a false sense of well-being,” the therapist says. But isn’t that what they’re supposed to do?

    Inevitably he meets a woman with whom he can talk for hours. She isn’t even deterred by the fact that he lives in a neighborhood frequented by skinheads, a place where you might stumble upon a rutting couple or a fresh corpse on the ground any given night.

   Mr. White’s darkly hilarious story has a light at the end of the tunnel or he wouldn’t be left to tell the tale. He’s a marvelous storyteller and, although the details suggest otherwise, his telling crackles with wry humor. Laughter in the face of death is the best medicine. Ultimately, the story is about the redemptive power of love and, yes, sex with the right woman. The content is about adult matters, but I’d give it a soft R for content. No language that would shock a 13-year-old.

   White pulls you into a slice of his life so seductively that you feel each agonizing moment with him — laughing all the way. ”

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