Bust makes witty use of a title that conflates feminine cleavage and legal arrest—perfectly suited for a play that contrasts making it big time in Los Angeles with doing time in a women's jail. Lauren Weedman is well-known in Seattle for solo performance pieces that mirror her own personal trials and tribulations. Semiautobiographical, Bust tracks Weedman's volunteer work with Friends Outside, providing emotional support to female inmates, while she maneuvers her way as an actress-writer through the superficiality of Hollyweird. The play also examines the meaning of freedom by perp-walking it into the limelight. Weedman, a petite blonde, has seemingly swallowed a cast of hundreds, all vividly evoked as she meets her fellow volunteers, penetrates the labyrinth of the jail system, confronts an editor at Glamour, and braves the banter of the women's sauna.
Bust Empty Space Theatre at Lee Center for the Arts, 901 12th Ave., 206-547-7500, www.emptyspace.org. $25–$30. 7:30 p.m. Wed.–Thurs., 8 p.m. Fri.–Sat.; also 2 p.m. Sun., July 30. Ends Sat., Aug. 5.
Directed by Allison Narver, Bust is also the inaugural production in the Empty Space Theatre's versatile new digs on Capitol Hill. The theater boasts mobile banks of seats as opposed to the fixed proscenium setup in the old Fremont space, and Weedman makes the most of her (relative) liberty. The main stage's wide-open layout melds beautifully with Narver's excellent direction and Carol Wolfe Clay's creative set design; her minimal sets magnify various modes of imprisonment, from editorial authority to being stuck with a God-given body (Weedman's ability to work out her glutes during the performance is impressive). Weedman is absolutely hilarious without detracting from the somber realities of life behind bars. Blame it on Friends Outside's stipulation that its volunteers keep personal information to a minimum; Weedman's formerly pent-up expression bursts forth like a well-oiled gun.