‘Parallel Lives’ strikes chord | AspenTimes.com

‘Parallel Lives’ strikes chord

Janet Urquhart

Peggy Mundinger, left, and Wendy Perkins take on two of the many characters they play in Parallel Lives, a two-woman sketch comedy playing at Aspen High Schools Black Box Theater. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

Multiple personalities, multiple laughs.”Parallel Lives,” a two-woman sketch comedy starring Wendy Perkins and Peggy Mundinger – a pair of familiar faces on local stages – opened Wednesday to an appreciative, and predominately female, audience.

Perkins and Mundinger pull off 27 characters in 11 sketches that capture life through relationships – between sisters, friends and couples. Everything is fair game – sex, religion, homosexuality, death – in a blend of comedy and poignancy.The opening scene, in which the duo play two angels deciding how to create life with inspiration from a box of crayons to select skin tones – “White? Isn’t that kind of bland … I just think that the white people would feel inferior” – sets the tone for life’s foibles.From prepubescent Catholic girls, to a man and woman who flirt harmlessly each night at a cowboy bar, to a pair of spinster-type Jewish New Yorkers who take in lesbian-themed performance art as part of a women’s studies course (they play the ardent, feminist performers, as well), the duo takes on an astounding array of personas, giving each a distinctive edge and voice. It’s impressive to witness.

“Parallel Lives” was spun out of “The Kathy and Mo Show,” Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney’s off-Broadway hit in the mid-1980s. The stage play became HBO’s “Kathy and Mo: Parallel Lives” in 1991.If it especially strikes a chord from the female perspective, it’s with good reason. In one sketch, the two poke fun at a distinctly female experience by offering what would be the male take on the monthly event: “I’m due to start my period – having a big beer blast over at my house.”

But there’s something in “Parallel Lives” for everyone. It’s impossible not to relate to at least one of the characters, as well as at least one of the lives.The show, an Aspen Stage production, continues its run tonight and Friday at 7 p.m. There’ll be a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday and then another 7 p.m. performance on Monday. Tickets are $15, available at the Wheeler Opera House and at the door.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com