This review of Valerie David's The Pink Hulk at The Bridge Theatre (Shelter Studios) was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 7 (2017) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
The Pink Hulk
One Woman's Journey To Find The Superhero Within
Written & Performed by Valerie David
Directed by Padraic Lillis
Stage Managed by Angeline Nortz
The Bridge Theatre (Shelter Studios)
244 West 54th Street
New York, New York 10019
The Pink Hulk is Valerie David's autobiographical story about her journey to become a two-time cancer survivor. A serious, depressing topic, no doubt, but Valerie David retrospectively finds humor in the situation relaying her desperate struggle to get laid before she "loses the girls." In 1999, she beat Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Cancer free for 15 years, the experience gave her a "lust for life," which contributed to her ignoring a 3-month-old lump she felt in her breast. Encouraged by her friends, she went for a mammogram in 2014 only to learn she had breast cancer and would require a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. She faces friends who distance themselves from her, extreme loneliness (especially since she no longer had a boyfriend), and eventually comes to a point where she made a commitment to herself to go through this latest challenge stronger than she did the last time and on her own terms.
The funniest part of this one-woman show is when she describes the many men she contacted trying to get them to sleep with her prior to her going in for surgery. Her blunt honesty turned off a number of men and others she was attracted to, unfortunately, played for the other team. Valerie David finally found solace performing improv with the Cronuts at the Peoples Improv Theater, which allowed her to transform herself into anyone but her. Still, the horrible and painful consequences of the chemotherapy and radiation could not be ignored even though the lumpectomy was a complete success. She lost all her hair, prematurely went into menopause, and gained 30 pounds. She decided not to harvest her eggs, so she had to additionally deal with the fact she was never going to have children. She describes how breast cancer was a direct attack on her status as a woman. As Valerie David put it, "The results of the cancer treatment damaged my self-confidence as a woman and destroyed my ability to feel attractive."
Two months after the last cancer treatment, she decided to train for and enter a bike marathon, which she viewed as an opportunity to show she had prevailed over this latest attack on her body. She summoned her strength and focused all the rage and anger she felt within (just like The Hulk) to finish the race, after which she proclaimed, "I beat you cancer! I won." Of course, there still remained her insecurity regarding her attractiveness but that was resolved by a campsite encounter with a younger man who told her her breasts were beautiful. Confidence restored, Valerie David, who has the talent of a Broadway star, decided to write this show to share her experiences and empower those facing adversity in life, as well as help people understand and empathize with what their friends diagnosed with cancer may be going through.
The Pink Hulk began touring the country in 2016 and Valerie David began accumulating awards for this extraordinarily moving, candid, and insightful show. She was awarded the Queen's Medal For Valour by the SaraSolo Festival, and the Best Survivor Award in the Pittsburgh Fringe. I highly recommend you see this show when it comes to your city. The Pink Hulk is a 60-minute experience you will not soon forget. For more information, go to www.PinkHulkPlay.com