Stages

Bruce McCabe, The Boston Globe — Friday, February 5, 1999


Whos life is it anyway? In one sense, it’s singer-actress Celia Slattery’s. In a broader sense, say she and her collaborators, it could be all of ours.



Slattery’s musical and dramatic take on her roller-coaster life can be appreciated in her one-woman show, “Moving Target,” which is opening Public Access: 12 Hours of of Free Theatre” tomorrow at noon at the Actors Workshop, 40 Boylston St., in Boston. Admission is, of course, free.



The performer’s act – “part cabaret, part musical theater, part something different,” Slattery says – traces a young woman’s search for herself in the Age of Aquarius (think “Hair”). She and director Bill Castellino, who calls this a “poeticized memory play of a life completely lived,” blended original and classic ’60s and ’70s music with the assistance of music director Mark Shilansky. He calls it “cabaret with pop tunes and rock ‘n’ roll.” Quoted are “Peace Train” by Cat Stevens, some music by Bob Dylan, a medley of Joni Mitchell tunes, some Beatles, and “Make Me a Kite” by Amanda McBroom, the singer-songwriter-cabaret performer who wrote “The Rose.” Slattery was arrested in 1970 for flying a kite at a “Kite-In” at the Washington Monument protesting the Vietnam War. (An 1892 act of Congress made it illegal to fly kites in Washington, D.C.)



There’ll also be two original pieces by Slattery.



Born in southern California, Slattery moved with her peripatetic family to Washington, where she became involved in antiwar demonstrations and was arrested at age 17 for blocking the entrance to the national draft headquarters. But that was only one phase of Slattery’s (r)evolution. Others were her transformation at 19 into a single mother, and the suicide of the father of her daughter, Crystal, now 26.



Slattery is an alumna of the award-winning experimental company Reality Theatre. Among the show’s more inspired moments is her depiction of her improbable singing engagement at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, which has been called the world’s best hotel. The engagement turned out to be “for most of 1991,” she says.