Reviewed by Ken A. Fjord
Her surprise entry sets the scene.
Lardner’s entrance, a sequence ending with her waving a neon bible, “NO REFUNDS” cheerfully written on the inside in white light, doesn’t so much prepare the audience for a night of absurdity as it does batter them with a surreal overture. But Lardner’s exuberance connects with the audience immediately, and is the thread that makes the audience willing to go with her on this 50-odd minute ode to oddness.
Playing Gavin, a middle age man complete with bum bag and trucker hat, Lardner must escape entrapment in her basement, all while completing a telephone questionnaire for an insurance company. You’re not there for the narrative but the bizarre moments that spark out of it, and Gavin, with his gravelly voice and penchant for almost-but- not-quite doing the splits over a milk crate, is a very good guide.
Sketch after sketch pours out, all of them very silly. It would be easy for this to be an exhausting exercise, but Lardner commands the stage and keeps us with her. It’s very clear that she’s having fun, and that makes us very willing to have fun with her. And if the material is patchy or receives a mixed response, she’s happy to comment on the audience’s reaction and move on. In one repeated sequence in which the audience was made to continually hi-five her, Larder cheerfully noted over the music that we were “noticeably less into it the second time around”, an admission that sparked more laughter and saved the bit.
Towards the end of the show, I made the mistake of allowing my mind to drift for half a second. When I looked up, an armadillo was copulating with a cardboard box, creating an unholy abomination that earned the scorn of the world. I was so confused by what was happening that I howled with laughter and exclaimed, “What is happening?”. It’s the perfect summary of my experience with this show. Look What You Made Me Do brought a delight in confusion, something made possible by Lardner’s endless inventiveness and sense of fun.