It is Day 500 of the quarantine, and the time has come to do some deep soul searching. Questions like “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” and “What really matters to me?” have achieved new relevance in this, our changed COVID world. And these are questions which writer/actor Anna LaMadrid tries to answer in her solo performance, THE OXY COMPLEX. Presented by IAMA Theatre Company and filmed live at Los Angeles’ Pico Playhouse on 2/22/21, THE OXY COMPLEX is a thought-provoking examination of what makes each of us special – and our lives unique and compelling. Directed by Michelle Bossy, this dark comedy dissects important issues like love, sex, loneliness, trauma – and the hormone that affects everything – Oxytocin, sometimes called the love hormone.
Viviana is fictional – but LaMadrid’s observations are based on a reality drawn from her personal experiences and the experiences of other women she knows. Viviana has insomnia, and it doesn’t help that she also has “skin hunger,” a craving for the human touch which has been denied her over the course of her quarantine. Growing up with brothers, she has had no one around to teach her common female traits and behaviors, and she can’t seem to settle down into a mutually beneficial love relationship. As she ruminates about her life, LaMadrid resurrects the many faces reflected in her experience. She becomes the extravert, the shy introvert, the plain, the puritan, the sexy, the rejected – in other words, all the women harbored in her skin. She even manages to morph into her own mother – with all the advice that entails.
Coupled with THE OXY COMPLEX, IAMA presents a second solo comedy about female identity, ANYONE BUT ME. Written and performed by Sheila Carrasco and directed by Margaux Susi, ANYONE BUT ME digs into the psyches of woman who can’t be sure of their own identities as they create social beings to present to the world. Carrasco becomes the grocery clerk whose husband has ALS, the Native American wannabe fashion designer, the kidnapped victim, the abused girlfriend, the successful Hollywood actress, the immigrant with big dreams – all women who are struggling to understand who they are deep down, women with self-esteem issues who are afraid to let the world see what is inside the outer shell.
Both Venezuelan-born LaMadrid and Chicago-born Carrasco draw the audiences into their conflicted existence with skill and compassion. Both have strong credentials as actors and comediennes. And both are powerful female voices who reflect IAMA’s message. IAMA’s co-artistic directors Stefanie Black and Katie Lowes laud LaMadrid and Carrasco as “two undeniably powerful storytellers who are both ensemble members…each brings her own unique theatrical expression to our virtual stage, begging the audience to stay present and look within.”
THE OXY COMPLEX and ANYONE BUT ME are presented virtually by IAMA. They stream on demand from March 21 through April 18, 2021. Tickets are $15 for either of the two plays and $20 for both shows when purchased in a single transaction. Patrons who purchase a single show will received a $5 discount when purchasing the second show in a separate transaction. For information and reservations, go online.