From the moment the remarkably composed Jessica Hedrick takes the stage at The Player’s Loft, audiences know they are in for a quite a ride. Hedrick, who wrote and conceived Sodomy & Pedicures, her one-woman show playing as part of this summer’s New York International Fringe Festival, grabs the audience in her thrall and doesn’t let go until the very end of her wild, well-conceived ride.
Hedrick immediately peels away layers of her life story. The daughter of strict God-fearing Catholic mother and Communist father, she bares all in Sodomy -- both confessionally and emotionally, which is far harder-hitting than physically. Hedrick relays an account about how a particular sexual encounter has stayed with her, opening a veritable pandora’s box of questions about her past experiences. This allows her to open up about the friends, lovers, and insignificant others in her life.
Director Julia M. Smith guides Sodomy, steering the show clear of repetition and breaking moments up before they feel too long or discomfiting. Hedrick never gets heavy-handed in her delivery, but instead offers a more matter-of-fact presentation style. Her “this-is-my-life” attitude breaks down any wall that might have exited between artist and audience. It doesn’t take long before Hedrick feels like someone you’ve known for years.
However, Hedrick’s abundant skill should not be taken for granted. He seamlessly weaves between personifications of various other people in her life, distinguishing between all of them with a seemingly effortless array of vocal fluctuations and gestures. (A highlight is Hedrick’s portrayal of an acquaintance who has gone to seed with alcohol and promiscuity.) Additionally, Hedrick’s wry comic timing is that of a seasoned pro.
Sodomy could have easily fallen into the pitfall of self-promotion, akin to the Scott Baio/Hulk Hogan/Flava Flav Celeb-Reality” shows now populating VH1’s rotation. But Smith and Hedrick work together to ensure their show never once sinks to that level. For the most part, the show is merely entertaining, but it gets even better during its moments of pure revelation. Anyone who missed this show, fear not: I am sure that Ms. Hedrick has plenty more to say.