Rogue Review: "Born Again in Berkeley," show #829
Theresa Donahoe delivers an excellent solo show by giving depiction to what most church kids have experienced: the disappointment of man-led religion at the expense of what God intended His church to be. Donahoe’s exploration and excellently paced slow burn of character development, of which she is the central figure, is worthy of your, as she puts it, “naturally inclined, or learned, empathy.”
Theresa grew up in the small, Bay Area town of Martinez; being a Bay Area native myself, I enjoyed all the East Bay Area references to Martinez, Concord, Berkeley, Oakland, etc. Theresa’s 40-mile journey from a Martinez-raised to Concord-church-attending to Berkeley-living adult exposed her to more liberal living, more liberal conversations, and novel liberal ways of practicing her born again Christianity.
As an actress, Theresa’s depiction of the supporting characters in her journey are great, especially when portraying her youth group members. Having grown up as a dedicated youth group attendee, each character was enjoyably specific and accurate in nature. Theresa’s script is wonderfully character-driven, with crafty selections of plot points which show her growth in her faith such as attending hip hop classes, collegiate schooling, a job at a casting agency I think I belonged to for years (maybe Theresa checked me in at one of my auditions?!), and grappling with her role in her Concord-based church. Through discussions of politics, tolerance, and support, Theresa’s Born Again in Berkeley is an intimate look at one woman’s journey of widening one’s mindset and acceptance as walls of intolerance and ignorance are torn down.
You can catch the remaining showings of Born Again in Berkeley at the ViSTA Theater on Thursday, 3/10 at 8:30pm, and Saturday, 3/12 at 5pm.