Review: Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

How little we know about what it all means!

One must admit, an intimate, one-woman show in which the leading (and only) actress plays over a dozen characters calls for a bit of bewilderment.

Written in 1985, Jane Wagner’s The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life In The Universe is a satirical comedy about a woman named Trudy, a homeless bag lady who’s visited by aliens from outer space searching for signs of intelligent life. Trudy also has psychic abilities when wearing her umbrella hat (complete with foil antennas) which allows her to tune into the lives of others.

As Trudy’s channels are tuned and the lights dramatically shift colors, you’re taken further into the lives of 12 individuals, each loving and struggling through life. Covering an array of topics from love to discontent, the provocative storylines evoke laughter, sadness, fear, and insight.

Eva DeVirgilis, who plays Trudy and the rest of the gang, astonishes with her portrayal of all 13 characters. She’s an extremely confident and graceful actress, and she allows the audience to experience each character’s story, rather than keeping the focus on her ability to play the part. It was impressive, to say the least, to watch her flow through lines and nail each character transition for the full two hours and 15 minutes of the show—no small feat, I’m sure. Her dynamic use of the stage kept those watching engaged, despite the lack of props (aside from a chair), sets, and costume changes. DeVirgilis maintained an astute attention to detail in the way she used imaginary props to set each scene and quickly changed her hairstyle to become each new character.

While this is not a play with two hours of non-stop action, it is one that will undoubtedly call for much conversation on the ride home. Warning: Act II moves slower than Act I. However, the lines hold much more power and insight, and if you stay alert through the lulls, you’ll find yourself handsomely rewarded.

In a world where our problems seem to be so individualized, Search for Signs helps us see that we are a part of something bigger and thus should enjoy the mystery of life while we can.

And maybe, one day we’ll do something so magnificent, the whole universe will get goosebumps. Jane Wagner

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Tickets for Search for Intelligent Signs of Life in the Universe are available here and start at $15.

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Rebekah Closs

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