Blogs: Love ’em or hate ’em, we all read ’em. But ever wondered what it would be like to actually meet your favorite blogger? To know whether your witty cyber-chum was actually as candid and funny in real life?
“Blogging Unplugged: Women, Worries, Wit, Wisdom” made such an experience possible, accompanied by cocktails and plenty of laughs. The one-night-only performance at the Davis Square Theatre featured seven prominent Jewish bloggers (and mothers), with seven actors performing their most moving posts. The real bloggers then took the stage to answer questions. Some knew each other; others did not. Producers Susan Bloomstone and Sue Bear handpicked them for their followings.
The themes were powerful and universal. Ronna Benjamin (played by Gale Argentine) discussed “boomerang” kids who unexpectedly return home (and want to be fed!), and losing parents to Parkinson’s disease. JewishBoston’s own Judy Bolton-Fasman (Vivian Liu-Somers) contemplated how to let go once children grow into adults while still remaining protective (especially when one of your kids wants to venture to New York City—gasp!). Nicole Fonsh (Melissa Bergstrom) lightened the mood with her dating woes (if only we could meet men camped out in front of the TV, watching “Arrested Development”), compounded by her desire to only date Jewish men. The sassy Dr. Ruth Nemzoff (Renee Miller) functioned as the wise, older voice of reason, especially when it comes to navigating those pesky in-laws and overeating. Felice Shapiro (Tess Degen) contemplated life as a middle-aged widow back in the dating game and a mom of adventurous boys. Noted Boston journalist Linda K. Wertheimer (Susan Thompson) confessed to feeling alienated from religion after the untimely death of her brother, only to rediscover Judaism as a middle-aged woman while finding a soulmate (and having a son!) in the process. And Julie Levinson (Ursina Amsler) opened up about supporting a transgender child. She gained a daughter, but lost her little boy.
The stories had little to do with one another, but all wove and bobbed and connected with common themes: fear, acceptance, loneliness, religion, bravery and the power of Diet Coke to heal all wounds.
Most powerful, though, was getting to actually see the bloggers on stage after the show. The play’s narrative arc ended in 2013, and a lot has changed since then. Over time, bloggers begin to feel like friends, and it was reassuring to know where their stories ended up. Producers Bloomstone and Bear plucked passages that would translate well to the stage, but each blogger’s story had carried on long after the show ended. Fonsh ended up moving to New York and enjoying better dates. Bolton-Fasman will soon become a “boomerang” mom herself, as one of her kids moves home after college. (“It’s a good thing, really!” she promised a laughing audience.)
Most moving was the spunky Benjamin, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, something unaddressed in the show. Her blog now focuses on thornier topics like “17 Things Not to Say to a Friend With Breast Cancer,” which earned her some backlash from loyal readers (and real-life pals). The bloggers discussed vetting posts with family (a good idea), responding to critics, and just how candid blogs should be. It was a cathartic night.
The takeaway for mere non-blogging mortals? Write! If you’re so moved, share your thoughts. You never know who might end up drawing solace or inspiration from them. The Internet has plenty of pitfalls (and anonymous commenters), but it’s also a reassuring way to know that you’re never truly alone.