Review by ROB SAVAGEJune 07, 2015
My overall impression
For the first fifteen minutes of the expertly crafted one woman show “Unemployed. Finally …” Heather Dowling immediately has you laughing with her at her own life and the countless jobs she’s had along the way. With only a quick spin and a subtle lighting change, Dowling shifts seamlessly from one character to another – a daunting task considering there are over 30 jobs she lays down in front of us … each job carrying with it even more employers, co-workers, counselors, or drill sergeants. She paints a vivid, often hilarious picture and stays with these characters just long enough to make us feel like we truly have met and experienced them. And yet once the scene (and job) has run its course, we realize she has unapologetically ripped through many of these figures – providing us with an honest and accurate portrayal of the pacing we so often use when it comes to jobs that either bore, anger, or terrify us.
Then, about a quarter of the way through, something happens. Dowling uses two instances – one very global and one very personal – to pull something out of us besides laughter. The pace slows down, and the emotion turns up. All of a sudden, we’re not laughing alongside Dowling. We’re feeling alongside her. And from that moment on we realize this isn’t a comedy and that it’s not a drama … it’s life. We’re on a roller coaster of highs and lows and we shouldn’t expect to know which is coming next. Dowling is our guide and expertly navigates each twist and turn with spot on precision.
And as entertaining as all the characters are (Winnie & Karen – the “could do” and “should do” of her conscience are particular scene stealers) …. none of them can hold a candle to the character of Heather – the woman who wrote and has actually lived this show. At key points throughout the hour, Dowling takes a timeout from creating this fascinating world for us and lets us see how it’s affecting the person living in it. It’s these moments of intense honesty and vulnerability that are most moving here. And even though the show’s title tells us where we’ll be by the time the hour is up, you still find yourself routing for that destination and wondering how we’ll get there. There are many laughs along the way. Every character we meet keeps us thoroughly entertained. But the underbelly of Heather is where we’re left inspired.