SYRACUSE POST STANDARD: Glowing "What I Thought I Knew" Warms The Kitchen's Stage
“‘A roller coaster ride with thrills, spills, laughter, 'What I Thought I Knew’ leaves us breathless… Taking effective swipes at the American healthcare system where no one apologizes...Cohen's onstage work is nearly magical."
ITHACA JOURNAL: Kitchen's 'What I Thought I Knew' is one woman's fascinating story
“An unforgettable solo piece… fascinating, layered and disturbing. Before you know it you’re captivated, eager for the next bend in the path… There’s real danger and grief… yet dark humor spurts up like little geysers of absurdity… Astonishing.” – Ithaca Journal
“A masterpiece. The purest distillation of a life and death story, and the acting work gave full body to every metamorphosis. Astonishing, and a canonization of candor.”
—Robert Montgomery, playwright
“Alice Eve Cohen’s one woman show What I Thought I Knew, was AMAZING. Raucous, sad, moving and exuberantly funny. You can't take your eyes off Alice--or your ears away from a story of resilience in the face of everything you can think of going wrong."
Caroline Leavitt, NYT bestselling author; book critic, People, Boston Globe
"A compelling story told in an intimate voice, alternately humorous and gripping."
– Joan Lipkin, Artistic Director, That Uppity Theatre Company
“A compelling and utterly unique human journey told with ruthless honesty and humor. All I kept thinking was ‘what a woman!’”
–Christine Baranski, actress
“Alice writes with humor, guts, and honesty, while spinning her unbelievable yet true tale like a master. I laughed; I cried. I crashed with her losses; I soared with her triumphs. And I was gripped through every twist and turn. Alice Eve Cohen is my new hero. I aspire to look at my own life's challenges with her kind of ferocity and heartfelt wit.”
–Jacquelyn Reingold, playwright and writer, NBC Smash, HBO In Treatment
WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW, a solo play
“Hilarious, heartbreaking, hopeful and devastating all at once.”
—Minnesota Post, THE PICKS
BROADWAY WORLD AWARD nominee
for BEST PLAY and BEST ACTRESS IN A PLAY
JANE CHAMBERS PLAYWRITING AWARD: Honorable Mention
“So vivid, so immediate, so complex, so full of compassion… This is what theater can be.”
—Tompkins Weekly, Ithaca
“This play takes us on a gripping ride."
—Minnesota Star Tribune, BEST OF THE WEEK
"While filled with Cohen’s characteristic warmth and humor, What I Thought I Knew indicts the health care system."
“Joyful, heart-breaking, moving”
—Cherry and Spoon, Minneapolis
“Throws the insanity of the American health care system into sharp relief…sobering and thought-provoking.”
—City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul
"Profound… [a] darkly comedic reframing of iconic feminist questions around choice, parenting, and women's health… Challenging, beautiful, and defiantly funny "—Jane Chambers Award, Honorable Mention for new feminist plays
“A sold-out hit at the All For One Theatre Festival... A constant, joyous amazement.”—Executive Director, All For One Theatre Festival
JANE CHAMBERS AWARD Honorable Mention / Judges' comments:
"Judges were struck with your solo play's creative, darkly comedic and critical reframing of iconic feminist and very human questions around choice, parenting, and women's health for the stage. With wit, a compelling personal odyssey, and a panorama of vivid figures and loaded scenarios in America's landscape of reproductive culture, you hook audiences, offering new perspectives and emotional (as well as cultural) lessons on life. Thank you for sharing this adaptation of your book, and for crafting a highly-theatrical narrative that is at once highly personal and social, moving and profound. As a reflection on Life (and Death) What I Thought I Knew is challenging, beautiful, and defiantly funny."
TOMPKINS WEEKLY: Kitchen Offers a One-Woman Tour de Force
“When the stage is at its most compelling, there is a space opened up between the actors and the audience… Rarest are those occasions when the performer sweeps you up at her first tentative pronouncements and doesn’t release you until sometime after the final applause.… Alice Eve Cohen is providing such an occasion in her current one-woman show…So vivid, so immediate, so complex, so full of compassion, so brutally honest is her retelling that it seems all of this is happening in one brief present moment… This is what theater can be. All in one body—speaking, moving, falling still—and an audience, echoing each change.”
ITHACA TIMES review:
“Mordantly funny… Cohen's genius is to tell the story in a way that makes it stick with you. And it is in reflection, after she has taken her last bow and left the stage, that you discover the pain beneath the humor.”
SYRACUSE NEW TIMES review:
“(With) its emotional variety, as well as the lightning-fast shifts in tone, not to mention the demands it puts on a single performer, What I Thought I Knew is a model for how to do this kind of thing on stage… For telling her own story, from the depths of grief to the heights of absurdity, no one can top Alice Eve Cohen.”
JEWISH WEEK article:
“While filled with Cohen’s characteristic warmth and humor, ‘What I Thought I Knew’ indicts the health care system… Throughout the play, Cohen explores various Jewish rituals and traditions, from the superstition of the Evil Eye to the mystical concept of the Book of Life, as they relate to her own psychological and spiritual journey… In an interview, Cohen told The Jewish Week that the play is a ‘fast-paced, harrowing and darkly comic story’ about a time in her life that was ‘ultimately as enlightening and spiritually awakening as it was life-shattering and surreal.’”
• "A masterpiece!"—Robert Montgomery, playwright, faculty, The New School
• “A continual revelation… a harrowing, moving, and rewarding ride.”—Matthew Maguire, playwright; Theatre Program director, Fordham University
• "Raucous, sad, moving and exuberantly funny." Caroline Leavitt, NYT bestselling author, book critic Boston Globe, People
• "While filled with Cohen’s characteristic warmth and humor, What I Thought I Knew indicts the health care system..."—Jewish Week
What I Thought I Knew, at The Kitchen Theatre, Ithaca
Performances June 12-30, 2013
Interview with Alice Eve Cohen about adapting her book for the stage
Caroline Leavitt blogspot
WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW premiered at the Cherry Lane Theatre, on by the All For One Theatre Festival. It was produced by The Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca, NY, where it had a critically acclaimed three-week main-stage run in June 2013. The play has also been presented at the Hudson Opera House in Hudson, NY, and the RVCC Theatre in NJ. In May, 2014, it will be presented by Judson Church, in NYC.
Finalist, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference 2012
Profile and script excerpt
Alice was happy for the first time in years. After a difficult divorce, she had a new love in her life, she was raising a beloved adopted daughter, and her career was blossoming. Then, she started experiencing mysterious symptoms. After months of tests, X-rays, and inconclusive diagnoses, Alice was sent for an emergency CAT scan that revealed the truth: she was six months pregnant. At age 44, with no prenatal care and no insurance coverage for a high-risk pregnancy, Alice was besieged by opinions from doctors and friends about what was ethical, what was loving, what was right.
A dark comedy performed by one actress playing 40 roles, the play grapples with complex issues—including women’s reproductive rights and our country’s healthcare system—in a deeply personal way, inspiring public engagement and conversation across the political spectrum.
September, 2012: All For One Theatre Festival, Cherry Lane Theater, NYC
March, 2013: Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College, Branchburg, NJ
May, 2013: The Hudson Opera House, Hudson, NY
June, 2013: The Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca, NY, 3-week run, main-stage season.
(Nominated for regional Broadway World Awards for: Best Actress in a Play & Best Lighting Design)
Performed by: Alice Eve Cohen
Director: Elizabeth Margid, with additional direction by Rachel Lampert
Sound Design: Eric Nightengale
Lighting Design: Tyler M. Perry
August, 2018: Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company, 3-week run, main-stage season.
Performed by: Kim Kivens
Director: Jennie Ward
(Nominated for regional Broadway World Awards for: Best Play and Best Actress in a Play)
The show began its development through workshops, fellowships and residencies at:
University of Michigan
The Envision Retreat—Voice & Vision Theatre
Virginia Center for the Creative Arts
Finalist, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.
“Once again you capture me with a story that grabs my heart and makes me gasp. I have been thinking about it non-stop. Thrilled this piece will have a home for a few weeks in Ithaca. ”
—Rachel Lampert, Artistic Director, The Kitchen Theatre, Ithaca, NY
“While filled with Cohen’s characteristic warmth and humor, What I Thought I Knew indicts the health care system for first misdiagnosing Cohen’s condition and then refusing to accept the liability of treating her when her pregnancy was finally revealed through an emergency CAT scan on erev Rosh HaShanah.”
—Ted Merwin, Jewish Week
“Thank you for your extraordinary story. The journey was totally compelling and riveting. I was amazed at how you inhabited each character so specifically and distinctly. And what delicious humor you have! I was laughing, crying, and outraged at our medical system. I was so moved by your humanity and all the questions, emotions, struggles, elations, colors, revelations, arrivals that you lived through during your journey.”
—Dawn Saito, performance artist/actress, writer