[The following review ran in the Denver Post on Friday, January 23rd.]

Like T.S. Eliot, who measured his life by coffee spoons, playwright and performer Joni Sheram has found a perfect metaphor for her tale: brassieres. As odd as the choice may seem, it works perfectly to explore the arc of her life, the key frames of the maturation process of the fairer sex, and the last half century of American culture.

Joni Sheram
Joni Sheram, playwright and performer
Photo credit: David Ball
While writing the piece, Sheram wasn't sure she'd live to perform it, as she was in the throes of cancer; yet, here she is, having tenaciously overcome her greatest challenge, before immersing herself in re-writes under the seasoned eye of Brigitta De Pree, her director and co-founder of Manitou Art Theatre in Colorado Springs.

On the second night of the run, Sheram steadily warmed up to her alternately humorous and poignant material, flexing her comedic timing and making the most of a steady stream of zingers and insightful observations that bring home her witty and seasoned perspective on life.

Some of the many brassieres featured in the show
Some of the many brassieres
featured in the show
Photo credit: David Ball
Consider how the following brassieres mark rites of passage: training, front-hooked, strapless, push up, nursing, foundation, prosthesis, and stays, as in, G-d forbid, your grandmother's corset.

It's remarkable what such a survey brings up: the consideration of size and its relationship to sexual behavior, the security systems of different bras relative to male make-out strategies, bra burning in the '60's, the effect of lingerie on male desire, children, the Vietnam war, marriage, mastectomies, reconstructive and plastic surgery, and the aging process, just to skim a few topical references.

Joni Sheram
Joni Sheram
Photo credit: David Ball
Sheram's script captures many of the remarkable, kaleidoscopic events witnessed by the past three or four generations, as well revealing a reflective and inquisitive spirit that artfully applies a liberal dose of humor to it all.

The scene changes highlight a snappy choice of musical selections that reflect the pop music of the times, from "At the Hop" to "The Times They Are A-Changin'" to the present.

While this may seem like a "girls only" show, it's not. The depth of Sheram's writing transcends gender, asking us to consider the touchstones of our own life.

The Manitou Art Theatre's presentation of Cups runs Thursdays through Sundays until February 1st. 719-685-4729.

Bob Bows


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