Writer's Note: One of the special benefits when you have a show in the Fringe is that they are all reviewed. My first performance, July 6, reviewers from The Washington Post and DCMetroTheaterArts were in the audience and their opinions were published on July 7. Because the review of Ready to Serve was in a write up with two other shows - I have separated the Ready to Serve article for my blog - and for sharing.
See the full article HERE.
THE WASHINGTON POST
Ready to Serve Review: July 7, 2017
by Celia Wren
by Celia Wren
Ellouise Schoettler, writer-performer of “Ready to Serve: Remember the Nurses” at the Capital Fringe Festival. (Courtesy of Ellouise Schoettler)
“Ready to Serve: Remember the Nurses”
First came the sound of the ambulances rolling up to the hospital entrance. Then, the shouted alert to medical staff: “Gas! Gas! Gas!” It was a heads-up that the ambulances had brought victims of a gas attack on a World War I battlefield. The nurses would see the soldiers shuffle into the hospital, coughing, with bandaged eyes, each man holding on to the shoulder of the man in front in a kind of macabre conga line.
Those images are among the vivid details that surge up from “Ready to Serve: Remember the Nurses,” storyteller Ellouise Schoettler’s solo piece about Maryland nurses serving in France during World War I. Drawn from nurses’ letters and other documents, the 70-minute piece eschews performative polish: Dressed in contemporary garb, Schoettler talks casually, plopped on a stool, like a grandmotherly acquaintance recounting anecdotes over tea. But she has curated her material deftly, and the monologue is often moving and searingly specific.
Told in the first-person, through the eyes of a composite nurse character, “Ready to Serve” contains many scenes that are more upbeat or prosaic than the gas-attack sequence. The narrator recalls a pile of hand-addressed envelopes sent by nurses eager to volunteer; a dismaying first look at the bathrooms in the nurses’ residence in France (no shower curtains!); a hospital ward’s Christmas tree, festooned with ornaments that wounded soldiers had crafted from shiny candy wrappers. Through such glimpses comes a portrait of resourceful, mutually supportive, fiercely committed medical pros coping with harrowing circumstances they hadn’t foreseen.
“Ready to Serve” follows a previous World War I-themed show that Schoettler performed at the Capital Fringe Festival: “The Hello Girls,” about military switchboard operators. This newer piece gains added resonance from timing, arriving at the Fringe in the centenary year of America’s entry into the war.Sign up
70 minutes. July 8, 9, 15, 18, 20 & 22 at the Eastman Studio Theatre, Gallaudet University.