Review: What Was I Thinking?? by Michelle Rundgren
by Michael Meigs

What Was I Thinking? (via Michele Rundgren’s clever transformation of a book of women's tales of woe into a tipsy party of girlfriends who can laugh – now – at the world’s worst boyfriends and the world’s worst dates. 

The show ran for two weekends at the Hyde Park Theatre, and its sassy attitude brightened up that often foreboding space. I got there only at the closing show, on Halloween, which ran from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. that Saturday aftgernoon. Rundgren was hosting the party in place for the following two hours -- it appeared that the ladies were not planning to go out for their own tricks and treats until they'd fortified the presumably non-alcoholic stage beverages with something more serious.


The Hyde Park playing area was hung with some impressively large paintings by Austin artist Taylor Winn, done in the "drip style" used by Jackson Pollock back in 1947-1951. 
Taylor Winn's paintings


 They gave the place a vivid, already slightly zippy feel as Rundgren and her buddy Kriss Kovach greeted us in our roles as invitees to a reception given by Elsa (Kathy Rose Center) at her gallery.


Kriss Kovach, Michele Rundgren, Misty Lindholm (ALT photo)The others show up promptly, one by one, and settled in for wine. Only Hope (Michelle Cheney) was obviously distraught upon arrival; it turns out that instead of a marriage proposal, her number one guy's surprise was a certificate for a massage.


In their camaraderie the girlfriends traded stories. The movement was easy, friendly and informal. They were laughing rather than crying, though one got behind the hilarity their feeling that the clock was ticking and eligible men were getting harder and harder to find.  Isn't the best comedy often based on apprehension?


Jovial Rundgren liked to check out the buff guys in the audience and she spent some time sitting on laps – but with decorum and only after asking permission! 


Each of these Eves got two bites at the apple, essentially with monologues taken from the 2009 book of the same name, subtitled "58 Bad Boyfriend Stories",collected by Barbara Davilman and Liz Dubman (St. Martin's Press). There's some over-the-top stuff, but nothing that would surprise anyone who's been part of the singles dating scene in their 20s and 30s. And maybe 40s.

The Gang of 8 Bachelorettes: Kathy Rose Center, K, Kriss Kovachs, Jami Moore, CJ Beal, Misty Lindholm, Michele Rundgren, Rana Haddad, Michele Cheney (ALT photo)

In three of the stories, a girlfriend helped another one out by charading as the "bad boyfriend" in question. Kathy Rose Center does a wild turn as Sven, the melancholy "Swedish meatball," complete with Viking helmet, horns, rolling accent and German sometimes instead of Swedish. In one of these duets Rundgren herself takes the bachelorette party cake, though, with a stick-on mustache that won't stay stuck and a gaudy common household appliance usually applied in the bedroom.

This was good fun. Who says that theatre has to be serious? Mind you, the estimably dour Ken Webster was not cracking any smiles before or at the interval, but then, he was keeping out of the way of these female fireworks. Wise man. He's one of the "good guys" that this Gang of Eight is quick to praise and remains forever wistful for.




Click to view program for What Was I Thinking? by Michele Rundgren and friends 


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Michelle Lundgren (via HPT) 


What Was I Thinking?
by Michelle Rundgren
Hyde Park Theatre

October 21 - October 31, 2009
Hyde Park Theatre
511 West 43rd Street
Austin, TX, 78751