Kate Review – Comedy with a Twist

KATE Poster - Courtesy of Pasadena Playhouse
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Kate Berlant brings KATE, her hit show, direct from London and New York City, where it enchanted audiences in 2022 and 2023. Kate is an American actress and writer, as well as a comedian with stand-up and improvisational comedy creds. When KATE opened her show in New York City, the “New Yorker” described her as exhibiting “a Lucille Ball-level prowess for physical comedy, plays the show’s multiple characters, as well as multiple versions of herself: the starry-eyed ingénue, the tyrannical diva, the Warholian performance artist, and, truest to life, the super-talented entertainer who has yet to find her breakout role.” New York reviewers named her as a Critic’s Pick and one of the “best of the year.”

Kate Berlant – Photo by Jeff Lorch

Berlant’s film credits include “Don’t Worry, Darling and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”  Audiences may be familiar with her performances on television, as well as her role in “The Characters” on Netflix.  Variety termed her one of “Ten to Watch.” Berlant’s style has been described as brash, direct, intellectual, and often dipping into experimental comedy. Variety termed her one of “Ten to Watch.”  At the same time, her comedic talents may be an acquired taste which takes some getting used to. To those unfamiliar with her approach to comedy, you can see it for yourself at the Pasadena Playhouse in 2024.

Kate Berlant – Photo by Jeff Lorch

Berlant’s show actually began before she appeared on stage. The audience couldn’t help noticing Kate when first entering the lobby, festooned with photos, memorabilia, and KATE nameplates. As the audience milled about pre-show, Berlant remained seated in the center of the lobby focused on her cell phone. On her chest was a message for the bemused crowd: “Ignore Me.” Pretty hard to do. When everyone was seated in the theater waiting for the show to start, the countdown was literal as the audience waited five minutes while alerts telling the time flashed on a screen. The message was clear: KATE was going to be about the unexpected. And so it was. A goodly portion of the audience fell into gales of laughter throughout, while others looked around cautiously, unsure of how to respond.

Kate Berlant – Photo by Jeff Lorch

KATE is an autobiographical show starting off from pre-birth – but, perhaps not as autobiographical as it seems at first. Her grasp of accents is formidable, and she peppered the show with lots of different characters who looked and sounded unique. An audience favorite seemed to be the “deer caught in the headlights” moments. She also portrayed her feelings and emotions under differing circumstances and at varying points in her life. Clearly, she is a very talented woman with a brilliant handle on physical comedy.

KATE will definitely appeal to her loyal followers and admirers. For others, it may take some adjustments in expectations in order to tune into and fully appreciate Berlant’s talents. Of special note was Berlant’s silly putty face: she could move between expressions with nary a moment of preparation. It soon became obvious why she has been compared to Lucille Ball – that grimacing smile-frown will always be contagious and hook the audience. Berlant’s approach to comedy is fascinating – and very different from most stand-up comics. Put your expectations for comedy aside when you enter the theater. You will surely be surprised by KATE.

KATE runs through February 11, 2024, with performances at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101. Tickets start at $39. For information and reservations, go to the box office, call 626-356-7529, or go online.


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