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Reviews & Articles - Chocolate Confessions by Joan Freed

Reviews & Articles - Chocolate Confessions by Joan Freed

Going Solo



Joan Freed has a thing for chocolate. The Portland singer and playwright grew up on See’s, moved up to Belgian dark and now obsesses over Portland-based Moonstruck.

“I guess I’m promiscuous,” she says.

So she created Coco Bliss, a chocoholic alter ego and the central character of “Chocolate Confessions,” Freed’s one-woman musical comedy about love, life and, oh yeah, chocolate.

Freed will perform the show Friday, July 23, through Monday, July 26, in the first Solo Festival at Artattack Theater in Ashland. She’ll be joined by three other women playwright/performers, each of whom will present her own solo show each day. Show times are at 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m., with each performance moving to a different time slot daily.

Artattack co-artistic director Nicole Isaacson-Hill says the goal of the festival is to present an empowering image of women in performance and to inspire others. The theater is even helping to organize groups of high school girls and college women to attend performances. Isaacson-Hill says Artattack received dozens of video entries when the selection process began last summer but settled on four West Coast entrants including Freed.

The others are Nina Wise of San Francisco, Erica Lann-Clark of Santa Cruz, Calif., and Shelly Goldstein of Los Angeles. Each will perform four time in four days, and each will lead a workshop in which audience members can take part. Freed’s piece is slated for 8 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday and 2 p.m. Monday.

Freed has an unlikely background for a funnywoman. She earned a master’s degree in math from the University of California, Los Angeles and worked as an actuary, but she like to sing and always did a lot of public speaking. She eventually got involved in musical theater. After about five years of performing, she quit her day job with a financial firm to devote full time to writing and performing.

More recently she completed a class in stand-up comedy.

“It’s very different from what I do,” she says. “I have this sense of what works, but I wanted to break it down and understand. It’s extremely hard to write funny.”

Her first big one-woman piece was “Make Mine Mocha,” which was set in a coffee shop.

“I don’t drink coffee,” she says. “So for my second show, I thought, ‘What’s more true? Geez. I gotta put it in a chocolate shop.’”

And that’s where Coco Bliss came in. Freed says Coco is “a bit of a wiseguy.” She’s also in a position to interact with a string of zany customers, all played by Freed.

“Coco really enjoys her customers’ confessions,” Freed says. “She gets the juicy tidbits, their love life.”

From the likes of cover girl Lynn Tizzy, a ditzy blonde with a thing for romance novels. Freed says the romance novels are props, and she officially refuses to speculate whether they are linked to chocolate in the real world.

“But it seems there’s a logical connection,” she says.

The other shows in the festival are “A Midsummer’s Eve: An Improvised Performance,” by Nina Wise (2 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday, 6 p.m. Sunday and 4 p.m. Monday), “Songs for Lovers and Those They’ve Dumped” by Shelly Goldstein (4 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, 8 p.m. Sunday and 6 p.m. Monday), and “Don’t Ask,” by Erica Lann-Clark (6 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Monday).

Each show has its own set, meaning four stage set-ups a day. Freed’s chocolate shop is probably the most elaborate – and the most fantasized about. Just don’t try to talk her out of the wares in the truffle section.

“They’re baked clay,” she says.

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