Scared Stiff: Bare Bones Production’s Wilma-May and Her Tight White Socks Fails to Impress

Presented at the Alexandra Centre Society as part of Calgary’s Fringe Festival, Bare Bones Production’s Wilma-May and Her Tight White Socks suffers from an uninspired script that lacks direction, resulting in an exhausting, disjointed performance.

Written and performed by Jennifer Roberts, Wilma-May and Her Tight White Socks is a one-woman show that tells the story of Wilma-May, a woman who is afraid of everything. At the request of her therapist, Wilma-May joins an online support group to help overcome her recent emotional trauma which has made her a shut-in. The situation is dire, however, for Wilma-May as her supply of light bulbs has run out (and as you guessed it, she is terrified of the dark). In the next 12 weeks, Wilma-May must either overcome her fears or live the rest of her life in total darkness.

The audience is involved in this production too, acting in as online users of WIlma-May’s support group. The bits of audience participation, though, are rough, perhaps due to a lack of interest on our part in Wilma-May’s situation.

From beginning to end, Roberts struggles to keep the audience with her. At first, Wilma-May’s fear of everything is endearing as she shares just about every bizarre, ridiculous worst-case scenario possible. Quickly though, we become tired with Wilma-May. There is never time to breathe as she unloads on us the same idea over and over again, that she is wildly insecure and afraid of everything. It comes off even in the way Roberts awkwardly stands for a majority of the show, posed with her arms raised “fabulously,” a physical discomfort of being trapped for the next hour with this one-dimensional, irritating character.

There is little indication of direction in Roberts’ script. Revealing the source of Wilma-May’s emotional trauma takes too long to arrive where it needs to before we become disinterested. We are subjected to Roberts repetition of the same set-ups, but each time these set-ups grow further from Wilma-May’s fantasies to actual reality. The method could be effective, if only we cared enough to hang in with the main character.

It is a shame though, because Roberts shows potential. The actress also plays the role of Wilma-May’s grandmother whom she portrays with great personality. She commits herself to this interesting character who, in her youth, lived a fun and wild lifestyle, but then became tied down with family. Roberts mannerisms and voice proves to us she can be a good character actor. For one reason or another, unfortunately, Roberts fails to carry over this same presence to Wilma-May.

Towards the end, to add, the show does pick up and fares much better than the previous 45 minutes. All comes to light and Roberts plays Wilma-May as more of a real human being, which is refreshing.

As the show stands now, we want to like Wilma-May, but both Roberts’s performance and script make it difficult to do so. What Roberts needs to do, ultimately, with Wilma-May and Her Tight White Socks is to revisit her script and bring focus to the show, so then audiences may not be so afraid of Wilma-May’s next outing.


Bare Bones Production’s Wilma-May and Her Tight White Socks runs Aug 1-9th at the Calgary Fringe Festival.

For more information about the show and how to buy tickets, visit: http://see.calgaryfringe.ca/events/430-wilma-may-and-her-tight-white-socks

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