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Gerald Carpenter: ‘Cups’ Runneth Over at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza

Autobiographical monodrama, playing through Sept. 4, chronicles the life story of author Joni Sheram

Gwynyth Walsh plays a woman who sees her life as a succession of foundation garments in Cups.
Gwynyth Walsh plays a woman who sees her life as a succession of foundation garments in Cups.

The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza presents the autobiographical monodrama Cups, written by Joni Sheram and starring film and television actress Gwynyth Walsh, now through Sept. 4 in the Janet & Ray Scherr Forum Theatre at the Plaza.

Cups has its only character, played by Sheram herself in the original production, telling the story of her life via the rather Proustian device of a chronological review of the various brassieres — training to push-up, front-hooked and strapless to nursing and mastectomy — that she has worn since puberty.

As the word “mastectomy” signals us, this is not to be an utterly carefree romp down memory lane, although the prevailing mood is humorous and somewhat detached. Indeed, one of the most frequently recurring words in the many laudatory reviews is “hilarious.”

This is, of course, an exclusively female narrative arc. Women are to identify with the story; men are to merely look on and maybe learn something. That is not to say that men will not find Cups interesting or entertaining. That will depend on the writing — and the acting. Men will certainly do less squirming during Cups than during, say, The Vagina Monologues, but they will also find fewer occasions in which to mend their ways.

It may be that some will find the open hostility of the latter easier to deal with than the wry condescension of the former. That is to say that women are born understanding what this play is about; men can rarely come to grips with it except intellectually. So it goes. (Note to male reviewers: This is a minefield! Watch your step!)

Cups plays at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $34 and $29, with all seats general admission, and are on sale at The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Box Office. Call 805.449.2787.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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