I loved Cherise Pascual’s honesty, bravery and wit. She’s a high-octane performer and the show is inventive. Sharing sexual secrets takes guts and even though it seems “everyone has herpes now”, Cherise kept her herpes diagnosis under wraps for a long time. My favorite line is: “Herpes isn’t fatal, but it nearly killed me” because her secret lead her to substance abuse, fear or relationships, long-term celibacy, poor self-esteem. She HAD to tell her story to survive. I could feel the urgency and her passion.
I liked that her solo show had theatrical elements like projections, impersonations (her doctor, mother, boyfriends), funny props, musical parodies, audience interaction. She is charming self-deprecating when she fucked up a gag.
What I didn't like
Cherise is a ball of energy. A very likeable performer, but I felt she needed to slow down. (Perhaps first night jitters?) I know her need to tell her story has an urgency and a passion but she seemed out-of-breath during the show and it distracted me. Also felt it was a little long. The musical parodies grew tiresome, especially the one that went on waaay too long.
My overall impression
When I was handed a bright pink poncho and a condom—-branded with the show name—-along with the program featuring a photo of the star dressed as a giant, fluffy herpes lesion, I immediately thought “ahhhh, I’m at the Fringe.”
I use the word “branded” intentionally because that’s how Cherise Pascual (aka “Cherry Cola”) the high-octane star and writer of this solo show felt after being diagnosed with herpes. She tells her story with courage and laughter and we take the journey from self-hate to self-love with her. I won’t tell you what the poncho is for, you’ll have to see the show for yourself.