Who is the bag lady? That is the question that Sanctuary Theater attempts to answer in the aptly named one-woman show. As Clara, the bag lady, begins to empty out the contents of her bag, the audience is allowed access to the objects which shaped her life. Through these objects, Clara unravels her history, though she professes more than one version.
In one tale she is the Empress of New York and in another she is a lowly waitress. Jean Claude van Itallie’s play is both humorous and moving, but for all Clara’s whimsical tales Bag Lady never truly succeeds in bringing forth any sort of enlightenment. The reasons for Clara’s situation, though unfortunate, are not anything unexpected.
While the script leaves something to be desired, Elizabeth Bruce who plays Clara is fascinating to watch. She lends her character a disturbing authenticity and legitimate humanity. Whether she is flying off into a rage or cuddling her old doll she makes Clara into more than a stereotype of a homeless person.
While Bruce’s preformance is frightfully genuine, Bag Lady is more entertaining than enlightening.
Written by Jean Claude van Itallie
Directed by Michael Oliver
Produced by Sanctuary Theater Inc.
Reviewed by Mo O’Rourke