by Lorie Lewis Ham
Check out the video interview with Terry Lewis about I Am My Own Wife, at the end of this review.
This weekend I had the great pleasure of seeing I Am My Own Wife in Fresno. I honestly had no idea what the play was about–I just knew I was seeing a one-man show produced by StageWorks Fresno and starring Terry Lewis. That was all I needed to know to be assured it would be a great show. Well, I wasn’t disappointed!
I Am My Own Wife is a play written by Doug Wright, who also wrote the book for Grey Gardens. This play tells the true story of the notorious East German transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf who lived most of her life in Berlin. Most of the story takes place during World War II and the cold war. Charlotte is not only an interesting character, but even a hero at some points in her life for providing a safe place for the LGBT community to hang out and be themselves during these horrible times. This show is moving and a very interesting piece of history which I, and I think many, were not aware of. There are funny moments that will make you laugh, and heartbreaking ones. The way Doug decided to write the show, putting himself into it as he researches her, was brilliant and lets the audience decide for themselves what they think of Charlotte in the end.
Though not always done as a one-man show, it is how it was intended to be performed and how it was done here. Terry Lewis, dressed in the same black dress throughout the show, goes back and forth between each character with ease and skill, speaking in different accents and even at times in German. It amazed me how well he went from one character to another, each character distinct. The set was absolutely beautiful, and J. Daniel Herring did a wonderful job of directing.
This is not what I would call a family show if you have small children, but I took my 18-year-old son and he loved it. If you are looking for a show that is interesting, moving, thought provoking, entertaining and exquisitely done–do not miss I Am My Own Wife!
There are only four performances remaining, April 14, 15 and 16, so hurry and get your tickets now. It is on stage at the Fresno Art Museum’s Bonner Auditorium–a lovely venue. Call or text (559) 289- 6622 for reservations or information. You can learn more on our local theatre event page.
Video interview with Terry Lewis about I Am My Own Wife: