Losing My Religion, written and performed by Laura Ekstrand and directed by Jason Szamreta, tells the story of Ekstrand's relationship to her Catholic roots. Having grown up in the Church, stemming from generations of Catholics, Ekstrand started life devoted. It wasn't until college that she left the Church. Later in life, her father's death spurred a full-blown interrogation of her spirituality and beliefs. Employing ample doses of vulnerability and humor, Losing My Religion is relatable, honest and touching.
I must admit, as a lapsed Catholic myself, I came to the performance somewhat biased. However, this piece is bound to hit the heart of anyone of any religious background. Ekstrand does an excellent job of blending the intimately personal and the universal so that audiences are sure to relate to some part of her story. In addition, she evidently is well-researched regarding matters of the Church. Even though I attended many years of Catholic school, I still learned new concepts about Catholicism from the show. The pacing of this one-person show was compelling and kept the audience engaged. In addition to the pacing, the script does a great job of maintaining clarity of time and space. At no point in the story did I feel confused. Ekstrand also does a great job keeping a humorous tone through the serious subject matter. She deftly blends comedic timing with the occasional heartbreaking and authentic antidote.
In addition to clever writing, Ekstrand's comedic timing as a performer creates moments of hilarity throughout the show. The actor/writer plays many roles throughout, embodying family members, Bible characters, and more. Her expressive facial features and movement style allow her to sometimes send the audience into laughter with nothing more than a look or a move. Interwoven with the moments of comedy were moments of sincere vulnerability as Ekstrand poured her heart out to the audience with this very personal show.
Ekstrand captures the universal experience of interrogating beliefs about souls, death and god in a profoundly touching way. This show is a must-see for fellow Catholics (lapsed or otherwise)! For folks from other religious backgrounds, this show would still prove deeply impactful.
"Losing My Religion"
Written and performed by Laura Ekstrand
Directed by Jason Szamreta
March 9, 2023
The Spring 2023 United Solo Festival
March 7th - March 26th, 2023
410 West 42nd (btw 9th and 10th Avenue)
Carmen! is a trans-multimedia artist specializing in playwriting, acting and crochet. Originally from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, they are currently based in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, returning to their Atlantic Oceanic roots. Their play Taking the Plunge has been performed at the Tank and the Chain off Broadway and in the 2023 Fresh Fruit Festival slated this June. Carmen has also worked in front of house and technical positions for prominent theater organizations including New Dramatists, Portland Playhouse, Emursive and Future Proof. Carmen’s mission is to use play to create meaningful representation by and for underrepresented communities. For more information on Carmen! Follow them on socials @carmenacetosociety or check out www.carmenburbridge.info