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You Want Me To Do What?!
Published on Wednesday, 17 August 2011

3 stars

C Venues - C eca (venue website)
3-15, 17-29 Aug, 3:15pm-4:10pm
Reviewed by Lee Zhao

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.

Mary Lou Shriber, the star of You Want Me To Do What?! is one of those people who combines two walks of life you wouldn't necessarily expect. In her case, she graduated in theatre and nursing, and then spent a few years training as a nurse before embarking on a full-time professional career on stage and screen.

Recalling those years spent as an oncology nurse in university teaching hospitals around Boston provides the material for her show. Of course, being a veteran of the performing arts, Shriber has a distinct advantage when it comes to narrating her story, able to break into song on a whim or play both characters in a short vignette from her memory bank.

And her story is an interesting but rather sad one. For, as you may know, oncology basically means cancer, and more specifically in her case: leukaemia. Tragically, we all know how that story usually ends.

However, I was never really fully immersed in her show. This is probably because, for the most part, her experiences are not particularly exceptional, especially if you know people in the medical profession (and even more especially if they work in a field with as high a mortality rate as oncology). I was never under the impression nursing was easy and there are many similar tales of heartbreak out there. For instance, the final sting in her story, though again tragic, has already been told by the book and film A Civil Action.

I also felt the songs were there more to pad out the story, rather than really be an important part of the show. Even then, the show ran ten minutes short of an hour. And anyone who's eye was caught by the 'married to a Mad Man ad exec spouse' line in the Fringe listing will also be disappointed. Nothing about him in this show.

There's nothing particularly wrong with this idea. It's just that for me, her experience as a nurse is too brief to fill a full-length show. I'm sure there exist many equally if not more compelling stories - but maybe they're not being told by those who also have a successful stage career to use as a platform to share their experiences.

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