Comedic play is based on the internet meme
Karen blunders on social media, blames everyone else, then doubles down and does it all over again. The part of Karen is portrayed by three actresses, each showing a different side of this uniquely 21st century anti-hero.
Laura Strange’s band of talented musicians, singers and actors deliver a rollicking, powerhouse hour and fifteen minute performance that left the crowd at the Corralitos Cultural Center cheering on their feet. Many in the crowd had seen it several times.
The rock opera reveals the pain of Karen with surgical precision; Laura Strange uses her songs like a scalpel to expose Karen’s humanity.
For those who haven’t seen the ubiquitous memes, Karens are mostly white women who complain about things around them. “I want to talk to your manager,” is one of their tropes. Unfortunately, many have stepped from simple complaints to racist rants.
While the show does not lessen my anger towards the Karen who called the cops on the African-American bird-watcher in Central Park, it does let me feel empathy for Karen’s personal pain and possibly even some understanding of her personal world-view dilemma.
That is why I believe this show is important. The three Karens we meet are not shy about telling us to go fuck ourselves. The show doesn’t make me like Karen any better, but seeing how she suffers from guilt, from her own ego, from her world that doesn’t make sense to her anymore, it might give us a chance to have a conversation at a lower temperature.
Along the way we get to rock out to songs like “A White, White Whine,” “Viral,” her teary eyed lament that worst moment has gone viral on the internet, and a doo-wop number when her mother catches COVID.
I have a terrible feeling
I’m having trouble seeing,
How this is possibly happening
When the virus ain’t even a real thing … just a hoax.
I don’t know what I’ll do
If mama don’t pull through
Everyone says it’s a hoax
When mama’s in the ICU
With a hose.
This troupe has been mounting the show for six months and they have already built a fan base. It has legs, and it’s easy to imagine this one running the distance. This Santa Cruz-born show is still in development stages, but it is powerfully scripted. The songs Laura Strange wrote are succinct and telling, the musicians rock, the singing is doo-wop infectious, the acting is passionate and the show is the laugh out loud relief that may let you consider what Karen is about without screaming.
Karen with a K: A Rock Opera
Saturday, August 19, 2023 6pm
Corralitos Cultural Center
127 Hames Rd., Watsonville, CA 95076
Tickets: $15 at the door