‘Squeeze My Cans’ at 12 Peers; off the WALL Staging ‘4.48 Psychosis’ (Thurs., 5/4/17)


Cathy Schenkelberg in "Squeeze My Cans": was she blinded by the light?

Schenkelberg in “Squeeze My Cans”: was she blinded by the light? photo: Heather Mull.

1) A number of A-list actors have joined the Church of Scientology. Cathy Schenkelberg was never a household name, although for years she worked as a top-tier voiceover talent in TV and radio ads. And now, after leaving the Church, she’s done something that noted Scientologists such as John Travolta, Tom Cruise, and Kirstie Alley have not: she has produced a one-person show about the experience. Schenkelberg’s Squeeze My Cans traces her adventures and misadventures with Scientology from the time of her youthful entry through her decision to leave, 14 years later, in 2009. Squeeze My Cans—performed, of course, by Schenkelberg herself—has been a sensation at the Hollywood Fringe Festival and Chicago’s Greenhouse Theatre Center. The show is described as wildly humorous but shocking. While it certainly is not a promotional piece for the Church, it’s also been praised for taking a straightforward, matter-of-fact approach to a controversial subject. Pittsburgh’s 12 Peers Theater has scored a coup by bringing Schenkelberg and Squeeze My Cans to town for a limited touring run. 8 p.m. Performances through May 7. In the Studio Theatre at the Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland

Playwright Sarah Kane drew "4:48 Psychosis" from the depths of her own struggles. Off the WALL's unique production has Erika Cuenca (center) as Kane, with Siovhan Christensen and Tammy Tsai as her attendants and alter-egos.

Playwright Sarah Kane drew “4:48 Psychosis” from the depths of her own struggles. Off the WALL’s unique production has Erika Cuenca (center) as Kane, with Siovhan Christensen and Tammy Tsai as her attendants and alter-egos. photo: Darren Stephens.

2) Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis is not for theatergoers with delicate sensitivities. Kane, a brilliant but troubled English playwright, committed suicide in 1999 at the age of 28. She finished writing 4.48 Psychosis shortly before that. The play is lucid but non-linear; it has been called brutal but eloquent, and whether it conveys an “understanding” of depressive psychosis is a moot question—it certainly conveys the essence of one woman’s struggles. Kane was considered a leading artist of the British movement known as In-Yer-Face theater, and this play fits the category. Due to the disturbing and demanding nature of 4:48 Psychosis, professional performances are relatively rare. Off the WALL Productions does us a favor by producing the play here. Director Robyne Parrish has put together a unique staging which includes original music by Reni Monteverde and choreography by Ella Moriah Mason. 8 p.m. Performances continue through May 6. At Carnegie Stage, 25 W. Main St., Carnegie. (MV)

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Rick Handler

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