by Matt Ritchey
There’s a cliché phrase that goes, “I laughed, I cried, it was better than CATS.” The cliché is true for A Mile In My Shoes, Kathryn Taylor Smith’s one-woman show about the journey of homeless citizens in Los Angeles. Smith flows from character to character, telling insightful, sometimes funny, often tear-inducing stories from the mouths of homeless people and the people who work with them, as well as the community members who have very strong opinions – on all sides.
The direction by Zadia Ife is grounded and real, taking the dramatic convention of every story having a pair of shoes and making it organic rather than a stage cliché. And perhaps it’s Smith’s prior work as a domestic abuse counselor (and athlete, and motivational speaker, and all-around Wonder Woman) that makes her characters so relatable and specific, but whatever it may be, she absolutely shines on the Lounge 2 stage.
Like many show these days, A Mile In My Shoes employs video projections, sometimes to give location images, and sometimes to underscore stories. If there is an aspect of the show to critique, it would be this – Smith’s work is so true and empathetic that when the video images flash and your attention is taken away from her, even for a moment, a connection is lost. It’s only for a moment, as the performance never flags, but Smith’s words and actions do more for the imagination and soul than images ever could. It’s never more than a momentary distraction, but the more time you spend looking to Smith, the better. She has something important to say and you should listen. Closely.