Once Upon A Kidney
Amy Witry’s autobiographical play about reuniting with her college boyfriend and donating her kidney to him features major surgery, an emergency hospitalization, the passing of several beloved family members, and a minimum of two relationship breakups--it’s hysterically funny. Witry is an actor and standup comic living in LA.lthough the story begins with her college boyfriend’s kidney transplant, it turns out to be much more about how a talented, successful woman navigates her career and preserves her mental health with all of the job-, family-, health- and relationship-related responsibilities and travails that tug at her daily.
The other characters Witry voices in her show represent the challenges in Witry’s life. A conversation with her therapist reveals that she’s giving too much to her relationship at the expense of her mental and physical health. The hospital intake coordinator asks about her religion, and we learn that she is no longer a practicing Catholic.
Witry also projects a graphic of a cartoon body (like from the game Operation) and voices different body parts as they debate whether they should donate the kidney. The brain is bossy, the right kidney a soft touch, the left kidney (the one that’s being donated) is neurotic, and the colon is a curmudgeon that really acts up after the procedure and delivers one of the funniest lines. Witry has a gift for voices and the body parts practically steal the show.
Witry also plays the trumpet during her show, punctuating stories with jazzy ditties. It’s difficult to tell if it’s the mute or the style of her playing, but the music often sounds intentionally melancholy, which adds twisted humor to some difficult situations.
Witry’s comedic delivery and timing are outstanding throughout the show. Her specialty is delivering a bawdy line with zero shame; it feels fresh and empowering. She also jokes about dark topics like suicide and bounces back from them with a confident shake of the head that says, “Yeah, boo hoo! OK, moving on….” That’s really the heart of the play. Not the relationship with the former boyfriend or the difficult decision about donating her kidney, but the constant barrage of demands the world throws at this forty-something woman with a kind heart and a good head on her shoulders and how she tries to soldier through without relying on anyone else. Witry’s relatable humor has the audience nodding and laughing with recognition.
"Once Upon a Kidney"
Written and performed by Amy Witry
Directed by Shelby Stockton
March 15, 2023
The Spring 2023 United Solo Festival
March 7th - March 26th, 2023
410 West 42nd (btw 9th and 10th Avenue)
STEPHANIE EAGAN is a professional writer based in NJ. A fan of every type of live performance imaginable, from taiko drumming to political performance art, she travels the tri-state area and beyond in search of music, art, theater, and excellent coffee.