ARTS . Theater Review

Flying Blind
A discourse punctuated with sleight-of-hand feats, Out of Sight is a tribute to Sara Felder's nearly blind, opera-loving mother.
by Mark Cofta

Published: May 16, 2007

Sara Felder begins with joking announcements — "turn on your cell phones, tak out hard candies to unwrap during the show" — that soon morph into storie about her mother, and before we know it, we're into her fascinating memoir-with-juggling Out of Sight.

A rambling discourse punctuated with sleight-of-hand feats, Felder's acclaimed solo show is a loving tribute to her mom, a nearly blind opera lover whose overworked "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade" philosophy provides the 70-minute show's shaky structure. Felder spouts insights about Israel and lesbian life that are equally familiar, but made entertaining through her whimsical juggling detours, ranging from elegant floating scarves (while reciting a prayer) to balancing blocks (a nifty wall-building metaphor), three big sharp knives ("dangerous, as most metaphors are") and, of course, those ubiquitous lemons.

Shubin Theatre is Felder's ideal venue, a cozy, bare stage (though in desperate need of mopping) allowing personal conversations with her audience. She ad-libs freely, even incorporating a crying baby during last Friday's performance.

Felder, directed by David O'Connor, successfully brings her mother to life, providing a warm, funny portrait of a woman who uses three pairs of glasses, two sets of opera glasses, a magnifying glass and a telescope to view an opera; searches for "the gay code" that will allow her to join her daughter's secret world; and explains Israel's history to Sara by inventing characters.

Felder also portrays friend Norman — "almost 'Normal,'" he flirts, "but I'm not" — who, like Felder, dreams of Israel, and Gail, the Southern Jewish lover Felder meets on her post-high school pilgrimage to the holy land. Out of Sight bogs down when Felder indulges in an overlong shadow-puppet show that repeats the story of her mother's blindness, but soars when she allows her witty juggling to speak for her. Label it what you will (play, performance art, new vaudeville?), Out of Sight is a charming night with a charismatic performer.

Out of Sight, through May 27, Shubin Theatre, 407 Bainbridge St., 800-838-3006,