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Becky and Noelle Reviews

Backstage review:

Becky and Noelle: Investigating the Bucket
reviewed by Eric Grode

"Becky and Noelle: Investigating the Bucket" doesn't claim to be a cohesive or even a coherent evening of theatre. I'm not sure what it is, exactly, but I do know that it's chaotic, hilarious, and just shy of brilliant.

Noelle, a willowy and sardonic Jersey girl, has a way with accents and wry one-liners. ("I want to be happy but still depressed just enough to be interesting.") Becky, a former homecoming queen from Minnesota, uses her apple-cheeked charm to lure the audience in before unleashing a bizarre blend of perkiness and rage. This outsider-insider dynamic would seem to lend itself to envy or scorn between the two women, but Becky and Noelle find common ground via their eerily synchronized senses of humor.

Similarly, director Carrie Morris has devised a framework in which everything from Russian knock-knock jokes to an increasingly hostile tap dance to a song about a childhood sexual fantasy involving Kurt Loder coexists in a blissed-out equilibrium. Midway through the show, a duet about a pregnant woman and a leper on the subway doesn't even raise an eyebrow. That's how weird and yet oddly logical "Investigating the Bucket" is.

Overall, Becky and Noelle's spoken-word material is stronger than their Indigo Girls-on-crack songs; as good as their timing is, not to mention Becky's surprising musical-saw skills, they benefit from the spontaneity that comes with more freeform material. (An outrageous back-and-forth discussion of what constitutes "sexy" is particularly strong.)

Thanks to that spontaneity and the consistent level of wit, Becky and Noelle's potentially distancing style becomes as inclusive as it is enjoyable. It's appropriate that Becky and Noelle share two store-bought blueberry pies with the audience at the end of this terrific show; for all the hostility and deviance on display, they seem to be saying, we're all friends here.


New York Theatre-Fringe NYC review:

reviewed by Jayne Napier

Becky and Noelle: Investigating the Bucket starts off slow and then picks up the pace with a wacky song about the home states these two women hail from. It’s the first of many songs you’ll wish you could hear more of. I was personally hoping for a few more verses of "Dickwad" and the "MRI Rap." Noelle Romano has a physical presence that just makes you want to laugh. Becky Poole has a quirky voice and commitment to the absurd that is hilariously charming. These two women are very different but play off each other beautifully in what results in a fun, bizarre, musical comedy hour. Their strength lies in their ability to comment on comedy while also providing enough laugh-out-loud moments to keep you satisfied. The show only provides a glimpse of who Becky and Noelle are and what their points of view are. I wanted to get to know them better and you will too. I get the sense that there is an inside joke with Becky and Noelle, and I wish they had set the context of that joke up better so that the audience could have been more a part of it. However they’re having such a good time entertaining that they’re not really concerned about narrative or preaching or making sure the audience understands their brand of humor, which includes a love of irony, word play, sexuality and, most of all, music. They’re not derivative AT ALL but if you need a point of reference think Tenacious D meets Lili Taylor’s character in Mystic Pizza and then add a tiny dose of the Indigo Girls to the mix. Confused? So was I, but I had a good time.


New York Magazine/Metro TV online review:

Becky and Noelle: Investigating the Bucket
reviewed by Jada Yuan

Don't go into Becky Poole and Noelle Romano's bizarre and surprisingly hilarious variety hour expecting discernible punch lines. Their offbeat humor is all about the delivery, as in the opening scene, when Noelle plays a Russian peasant doing stand-up along with the somber tones provided by her accordion-playing sidekick. She uses a glare to the audience and a knee jerk to punctuate "jokes" like "I had a dream I was eating a giant marshmallow. When I woke up, my mother was gone." In addition to offering random skits, like ingenious imitations of "important" couples from Sonny and Cher to "two Italian guys stuck in the same shirt," the show also serves up an autobiographical account of their childhoods-Becky was prom queen, Noelle a misanthropic loser-told through tap dances and songs, many of which involve Becky's expert saw playing. Is the show cohesive? No. Does it matter? No again. Just roll with these girls. One of the most purely enjoyable experiences we've ever had at Fringe.


Backstage review:

Backstage.com 2003: The Theatrical Year in Review
reviewed: Eric Grode

Eighteen Back Stage critics take a look back at the 2003 theatre and dance offerings, and their choices of the choicest include both the expected and not-so. The general consensus, however, seems to be that, overall, it was a better year away from Broadway than on it.

Among the highlights of 2003 were two thought-provoking revivals. The less familiar piece, Jean Genet's The Blacks, received a whip-smart revival from the enterprising Classical Theatre of Harlem. Christopher McElroen's take-no-prisoners staging, a gorgeous physical production, and several standout performers -- including Ron Simons and J. Kyle Manzay -- breathed violent life into this thorny, powerful work. Hamlet, by contrast, is hardly hurting for exposure. Minneapolis' enterprising Theatre de la Jeune Lune brought a crisp, spooky, beautifully acted production to the New Victory, led by the superb Steven Epp in the title role. If every kid were introduced to Shakespeare by work of this caliber, the classics would be in much better shape. Elsewhere, the otherwise forgettable Life (x) 3 featured the pitch-perfect Linda Emond as a long-suffering housewife, while Brian F. O'Byrne's grotesque tour de force energized Enda Walsh's underrated Bedbound at the Irish Rep. Other memorable performances: Gian-Murray Gianino's chilling cameo in bobrauschenbergamerica, Liza Colon-Zayas' boisterous nanny in Living Out, David Logan Rankin's silky Iago in the Shakespeare Project's Othello,and Becky Poole and Noelle Romano in their giddily perverse Fringe Festival comedy, Becky and Noelle: Investigating the Bucket. But the event lodged most firmly in my head is Deborah Warner's haunting, hugely ambitious The Angel Project, under the auspices of the Lincoln Center Festival. Fishing under the Queensboro Bridge, sleeping in dilapidated Times Square theatres, and keeping vigil from the Chrysler Building, Warner's angels remained silent but managed to convey volumes. New York is very lucky to have had them.