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Miss Witherspoon

Full Length, Comedy
1 man, 4 women (doubling)
Total Cast: 5, Flexible Set
ISBN-13: 978-0-8222-2153-1


MIN. PERFORMANCE FEE: $105 per performance.
THE STORY: Veronica, already scarred by too many failed relationships, finds the world a frightening place. Skylab, an American space station that came crashing down to earth, in particular, haunts and enrages her. So she has committed suicide, and is now in what she expected to be heaven but is instead something called the Bardo (the netherworld in Tibetan Buddhism), and the forces there keep trying to make her reincarnate. So far she’s thwarted these return visits to earth with a sort of “spiritual otherworldly emergency brake system” she seems to have. She doesn’t like being alive, and post-9/11 finds the world even scarier than when she was there. A lovely if strong-willed Indian spirit guide named Maryamma, however, is intent on getting Veronica back to earth so she can learn the lessons her soul is supposed to learn. Veronica—nicknamed “Miss Witherspoon” by Maryamma—didn’t expect there to be any afterlife, but if there has to be one, she demands St. Peter and the pearly gates. Or even the Jewish afterlife, described by Maryamma as being like “prolonged general anesthesia,” would be nice. But seemingly Veronica is stuck with Maryamma and reincarnation, and also later on with Gandalf and Jesus (who on a playful whim appears in the form of a black woman in a big “going to church” hat). Several times in the play Miss W’s brake system fails, and she’s forced to return to earth, but each time she keeps killing herself (even as an infant at two weeks, which especially irks Maryamma). By the end of the play, however, Maryamma, Gandalf and Jesus convince Miss W that the world is in such a mess that souls “must move through their spiritual evolution faster than they’ve been doing…they cannot go live through eighty and ninety years and only learn tiny, tiny lessons. We need things to move faster!” In the end, Miss W finds her own personal way to make sense of that entreaty, and she finally agrees to return to earth to help…well, save the planet basically.
“The author of many zippy sitcoms about domestic and social outrages now turns his thoughts to the afterlife, in an endearingly meditative farce about Veronica, a depressive woman who commits suicide in the year 2000 ('At least I got to miss 9/11') and lands in a sort of limbo, where she is reincarnated as, among other things, an abused child and a dog…It’s a pleasure to note that [Durang] hasn’t lost his screwball. At the beginning of the new play an unseen voice warns the audience that there are five obscenities in the play. 'All the other words are nice.' They are, and pertinent and funny too.” —Time Magazine. “This is Durang at the top of his metaphysical, apocalyptic, high-and-pop cultural game…thoroughly lovable. And funny.” —NY Newsday. “With MISS WITHERSPOON, Christopher Durang recovers the wonderfully irreverent humor that has made him famous…Rechristened Miss Witherspoon, because her sardonic negativism is reminiscent of an Agatha Christie–style 'bothersome Englishwoman,' Veronica is forced into successive rebirths. A furious baby, her puzzled parents range from solid burghers to drug-addicted hippies. She is happiest when briefly reincarnated as a blissfully ball-fetching dog…this is easily New York’s funniest show.” —Bloomberg News. “Chris Durang’s slyly bittersweet new entertainment.” —Village Voice. “A delightful eighty-minute crazy-quilt fantasy.” —Associated Press.