Awesome Performance Carries “Edge” at Actors

Catherine Combs as Bernadette in The Edge of Our Bodies Humana Festival of New American Plays Actors Theatre of Louisville 2011. Photo by Alan Simons

As the audience walks in the Victor Jory Theatre before the start of “The Edge of our Bodies,” a young and innocent-looking actress sits in a chair, still as a statue.  Her transformation into a street-wise, sexy and intelligent woman on a remarkable journey makes for a memorable performance in the Humana Festival of New American Plays.

Catherine Combs is Bernadette, a 16-year-old boarding school student who takes a train to see her boyfriend, bringing news that she’s carrying his child. But the boyfriend is nowhere to be found, and in the process of telling her story Bernadette has some interesting confrontations with a variety of men.The audience only learns about these encounters from her descriptions, which are vivid and detailed.

She sheds the innocent schoolgirl look, letting her hair down, smoking a cigarette and becoming a very sensual young woman.

The most fascinating of these encounters is at a bar, where she meets a man who lies about his age and his name, yet she goes with him to his hotel room. Once there, she describes the encounter in detail, how she asks “Marc with a C” why he doesn’t want to fuck her. He doesn’t, because he says he’s got herpes, but asks simply to see more of her.

But for one brief appearance by a janitor, the entire play is a one-woman show, and it’s an amazing performance by Ms. Combs, who had a small part in the movie “The Blind Side.” She never misses a beat in delivering a huge volume of lines.

The playwright, Adam Rapp, has written extensively about young adults in both novels and plays. He’s had more than a dozen plays produced since 2000.

I highly recommend it, but (obligatory disclaimer) don’t claim to be a theater critic.  Here’s a link to a good one from the C-J.