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Theater Review: ‘Squeamish.’ Streaming from the Public


Continuing its 2020-20ONE series of streaming productions, the Public Theater of San Antonio presents a compelling and startling production of playwright Aaron Mark’s 2017 Squeamish, the third play in a trilogy that includes Empanada Loca and Another Medea.

Ginger Gamble Martel stars as Sharon, a therapist who’s on the brink of completely losing it. She’s a recovered alcoholic and she’s off her psychotropic meds, Desperate, she goes in the middle of the night to the upper West Side office of Dr. Schneider, her own psychiatrist. Though she hasn’t spoken to him for 15 years, she needs to tell her story…and what a tale to tell. She’d recently gone to Lubbock to attend the funeral of her nephew, who’d allegedly committed suicide. There, she’d met his girlfriend Cara, who drew Sharon into a cult of people known as Sanguinarians — lovers of blood. She’d always been a “hemophobe” — repulsed by the red liquid because of earlier family horrors. But she is drawn into the cult’s vortex, and she becomes obsessed.

The playwright, no stranger to the darkness that exists in everyone’s souls, takes no prisoners in Squeamish. Sex, suicide, vomit, flesh-cutting and peppermints (!) all figure in this story.

Martel’s performance is remarkable. With her intensely blue eyes, she can play crazy with the best of them. Director Donna Provencher made the smart choice of placing her in a living room set and letting her just do her thing.

It’s so interesting how COVID-19 is changing things, especially theater. Because the Public has to stream this show rather than performing it in person makes it much more intense. The camera is set up on medium focus and never flinches, allowing the audience to watch Sharon’s meltdown up-close and painfully personal. You can’t get away.

If you want to see some damn good acting, get tickets for this show. The live performances run Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. through Nov. 15. Tickets are available here.

Feature photo of Ginger Gamble Martel done Andy Warhol-style by the author.

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