Ernst makes you laugh, reflect in ‘Resistant Gray’

At 52, she has stopped dying her hair but has not stopped resisting.

WELLFLEET – She’s back! Christine Rathburn Ernst – writer, poet, performer, teacher and activist – is in her eighth summer foray as the self-proclaimed Fat Ass Cancer Bitch. This time, the show is called “Resistant Gray,” a nod to both her age and her politics. At 52, she has stopped dying her hair but has not stopped resisting (any Trump supporters in the audience are invited to leave; “I am happy to refund your ticket price”).

Ernst is a compelling combination of storyteller, comedian, wordsmith and performance artist. Her narratives are personal, political, provocative and, by turns, poignant and hilarious.

Her latest show comprises more than a dozen narratives/verbal vignettes, with really bad jokes in the intervals between riffs (“What do you call a boat full of penises and potatoes? A dictatorship.” “Donald Trump walks into a bar and immediately lowers it.”). You groan and laugh at the same time.

Ernst has a wide-ranging repertoire this time around. She has recycled a few of her favorite monologues, infusing them with new vigor, but most of the evening is new material. While she celebrates everyday sacraments and sacrilege (simple acts of “sublime tenderness” and blatant inhumanity), she also hits on some big topics. Marveling at the amazing post-presidency of Jimmy Carter, for instance, contrasts starkly with her observed hypocrisy of piously, judgmental religious folk and the growing number of white males fingered by the #metoo movement.

Ernst has never played it safe, and she never hides her agenda. This show is in your face, making you laugh, cheer, question and reflect. She muses about growing older and the irony of her one-time hope that she would age into a winsome combination of Lauren Bacall and Catherine Deneuve while, instead, she became a disappointing morph between Janet Reno and Max Headroom. She tells tender tales of her aging father and her young daughters, all the while peppering her monologues with rapid-fire political raps, popular-culture references, raucous humor and righteous rage. She recites and then dismisses a poem she wrote about bunions (bunions?!), which somehow becomes personal and emotional.

Throughout it all, the passionate anger, the sentimental and heartbreaking anecdotes, the warm humor and bad puns, Ernst emerges as a singular, spectacular performance artist. She is on the road to achieving her goal of “being an effective agent of change in this broken world.”

Don’t miss this remarkable evening of honesty, outrage, humor and hope.