Guest Author - Donna Ledbetter
Funeral Potatoes is the new, one-woman dramatic comedy now playing at the Source Theater in Washington, D.C. Follow young 20-something Megan as she navigates the thin lines that separate truth, honor, and respect. Her grandfather has recently died and she has volunteered to speak at his funeral, but the only knowledge she has of him are of his days of philandering and cheating on his wife and the annual gift of $20 she always receives at Christmas. Megan’s family and the Church also play a part in shaping how she comes to terms with her self-inflicted crisis. The family suffers its own crises, too, but somehow redemption comes, like rain on a searing hot desert.
Written by Jjana Valentiner, Funeral Potatoes makes the tragedy of death more palatable with food, comedy, and a little light music. Just as skillfully as Eve Ensler does in The Vagina Monologues, Valentiner tirelessly interprets all the roles herself, giving each man, woman, and child a distinctive voice and character. In the background, contemporized music and modern 80’s classics underscore character dialogue, making it a fully sensory experience when ushers pass the audience a sampling of funeral potatoes – a baked mixture of hashbrowns, creamed soup, sour cream, and cheddar cheese topped with corn flakes – as part of the play.
Valentiner’s characters are endearing ones. They are the sort of family that no one will admit they have, but everyone can see bits of their mothers, fathers, or siblings in them. For that reason, Funeral Potatoes is a show better digested with a grain of salt. There are things to take offense at, but there’s so much care in it that it feels like therapy. Helping others heal may be Valentiner’s objective. If so, we’re all off to a promising start.
As a new playwright, Valentiner has produced a fine work in Funeral Potatoes. It is one well worth watching. The play is also one well suited for the intimate settings of the Source Theater, which seats no more than 50 people at each performance, is located at 916 G Street, NW. Buy your tickets early. Funeral Potatoes runs through February 15. Tickets are $15.