Kate Robards’ Refreshing Approach to Love & Sexuality
by Tanvi Agrawal
In her audacious one-woman show, “PolySHAMory,” Kate Robards shares the raw details of her stint in a non-traditional relationship. She tells us about coming to terms with veiled infidelity, and finding the strength to restart life with more self love.
Kate moves through a range of tones, starting with playful and awkward stand up comedy, pivoting into casual storytelling. She works her way to heightened emotional drama–which, I admit, made me tear up.
Attempting to string together a painful, disjointed narrative, Robards often veers off into tangents, like her obsessive quest for tasty pickles. Then, she suddenly switches to her anger at her cheating husband and shatters a glass door with a kick. She ends up in the emergency room, covered in blood.
If you pay close attention, the stories fit together. She tells the familiar tale of a dirt-poor Texas girl who succumbs to the will of a rich husband.
Robards’ subversive topic of polyamory bonds us together by exposing our curiosity. “You know what you came for,” Kate tells us, launching into wonderfully risque descriptions of her sexual adventures. Maybe we all long to hear more about a long-lasting free love movement.
Robards keeps returning to the phrase: “I know exactly how you feel,” which people use to express sympathy despite their lack of connection. When Kate’s dad dies, her insensitive best friend says, “I know exactly how you feel,” comparing the death to her dog’s dying!
Our protagonist represents the part of America that doesn’t believe in mental health care. She says, “In Texas, we don’t do therapy. We do Church.” She then deliberately ignores the Texas way, and finds a sex therapist, who helps her navigate a so-called polyamorous affair with her husband and his girlfriend. You must hear that story!
In Kate’s hilarious conversation with her gynecologist, we relish moments of raunchy humor. When she pretends to be the doctor looking up between her legs, Robards earns some cheap yet uproarious laughter.
I applaud Kate for her effort, but there’s room for development of her rich gender and class themes. It takes a lot of bravery to share such intimate experiences. Kudos to Kate!
“PolySHAMory” written & performed by Kate Robards, directed by Maureen Monterubio, at The Marsh, San Francisco, through Saturday, February 8, 2020. Info: themarsh.org
Cast: Kate Robards