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Fifty Shades of Melania

comedy · liana mesaikou · Ages 17+ · world premiere · one person show · United States of America

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Review by CHRIS VALENTI

June 27, 2019 certified reviewer

What I liked

A deep delve into this character is not an easy task. Although the political balance within Los Angeles leans heavily in one particular direction, many folks are more forgiving, and some even defensive, of Melania. But Liana’s piece focuses on a subject who spends most of her time, nowadays, hiding from the limelight. It’s difficult to form a grounded opinion about someone who doesn’t seem to have many of her own, but Liana scrutinizes this unknown entity with grace and humanity while being justifiably critical – and very funny. Her play is expertly written with a clear structure that assures her viewers of a series of satisfying chapters.

What I didn't like

It’s easy to see the potential Liana has. She vulnerably throws her heart and body into this character and hilariously dangles both with abandon in front of the crowd. She’s brave, ballsy, inventive, and funny. If this is the first chapter in her book of creations, this reader is an anxious page turner.

My overall impression

One of the most enjoyable hours I spent at the festival this year was when I saw Liana’s creation. In a ubiquitous sea of mundane political lampooning and easy low-hanging Donald Trump bashing, this clever writer / performer dives far deeper in her exploration of the First Family than anything else I’ve seen out there. If they say, “Behind every great man is an even greater woman,” who, would they say, is behind an egomaniacal, halfwitted, selfish, spoiled, rapist manipulator asshat? Liana’s characterizations and various vignettes probe some possible answers.

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