AETN Arts Fridays - Let Me Down Easy airs at 9 p.m.
Having been credited with creating a new form of theater, to create Let Me Down Easy Smith interviewed an eclectic group of people (300 on three continents) and performs several in an evening that is funny, moving and engaging.
The title resonates on several levels reverberating with meanings of lost love, the faith that sustains people in times of difficulty, and ultimately, the end of life.
Smith, through her chameleon-like virtuosity, creates an indelible gallery of portraits, from a rodeo bull rider to a prize fighter to a New Orleans doctor during Hurricane Katrina, as well as boldface names like former Texas Governor Ann Richards, legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong, network film critic Joel Siegel, and supermodel Lauren Hutton. She performs 19 characters in the course of an hour and 35 minutes. Their stories are alternately humorous and heart-wrenching, and often a blend of both. Building upon each other with hypnotic force, her subjects recount personal encounters with the frailty of the human body, ranging from a mere brush with mortality, coping with an uncertain future in todays medical establishment, to confronting an end of life transition. The testimony of health care professionals adds further texture to a vivid portrayal of the cultural and societal attitudes to matters of health.
With keen observation and understated compassion, Smith without judgment and maintaining the dignity of her subjects at all times effortlessly submerges her own persona, and assumes her characters vocal and physical mannerisms with unerring accuracy.