Review by Harrison Held
Dr. Merle' Conscious Soden presents an inspiring one woman show with special guests called Conscious Getting Unstuck - Homeless To Hollywood based on her real life traumatic experiences and life changing 360's.
Merle/Conscious was the daughter of a New York City cop and a glamorous con woman/drug addict who split up when she was little. She was sexually molested as a child and experienced many other traumas while growing up.... the cards were definitely stacked against her and by aged 11 she was hooked on cocaine. In her favor were her special abilities as a gifted basketball player garnering her local acclaim, self respect and a four year scholarship to Syracuse University. It was during this time in high school that she became friends with another local basketball player named Dana Owens. One day her friend Dana said to her that she wouldn't be playing basketball anymore - she was going to become a rapper. Dana went on to great success as Queen Latifah.
The girls' paths wouldn't cross again for many years during which time Conscious succumbed to a full blown tragic lifestyle of drug addiction, ill health, crime, pimping and homelessness. She also became infected with HIV from a female partner which caused her to have suicidal thoughts. The show includes poignant footage recreating Conscious' group therapy sessions and moving scenes with her as a child with her beloved aunt. The scenes with the dead people from her past that hurt her approaching her onstage asking for forgiveness were very moving and it was also noteworthy when Conscious, using sex toys gives the audience a graphic and important lesson about the transmission of HIV.
After finally sobering up years later and sleeping on her older sister's sofa, Conscious, after great diligence and prodding from her sister, lands work as a security guard in the New York City club scene where she was spotted by actor Mark Wahlberg who brought her onto the film Boogie Nights as his security lady. Things were looking up... Then a production internship where she shows her electrical wiring skills leads her back to her old friend Queen Latifah now preparing her talk show at Telepictures. It goes to show you that good old fashion hard work does pay off. Her reenactment of the TV executive on the phone reuniting her with Latifah was priceless and once reunited with her old basketball pal her tale of Latifah saying to her "I feel like I failed you as a friend" was gut wrenching.
Conscious Getting Unstuck - Homeless to Hollywood is a diamond in the rough and contains many important lessons though it runs a little too long... the material is very interesting and Conscious inspires and teaches through her zest for life, love of people and ability to let go of the horrible demons from her past. She also went back to school in Florida and got her doctorate... well done and very inspiring. See
http://www.igotunstuck.org/ for more information about the show.
Playing Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at
The Hudson Guild Theatre in Hollywood
through September 19, 2015.