Tightly packed


Toke at the Ooley Theatre, 2007, 28th Street; 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. June 17; $10-$15; (916) 457-2129; http://ooleytheatre.org.

You want to like Toke—at least, I did. An autobiographical comedy-drama, it’s about a young woman coming of age in the ’60s. Written by Deedee Kirkwood, who lived it, and starring Tanaya Hurst as heroine Weedee, it tackles issues of sexual equality, veterans’ benefits and medicinal marijuana, among way too many other things.

Toke describes Kirkwood’s wild ride from establishment scion to counter-culture rebel and back, trying to include it all. There are many stops along the way: to smoke dope with aspiring superstar-bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger in SoCal, to inadvertently foil a planned Baader-Meinhoff Gang demonstration by serving them hash, to enjoy the free-love era with both men and women, to marry a young man (Jake Brooks), only to abandon him upon his return as a damaged Vietnam War vet. All the while, Deedee/Weedee is accompanied by the generous Pot Fairy (Scarlet O‘Connor).

Ultimately, Toke tries to say too much about too many things, and that’s its undoing. Director Blake Flores (a co-founder of Big Idea Theatre) fails to focus the script, or to naturalize some of its pretentious dialogue. His cast—eight actors playing more than two-dozen characters—varies from pretty good to really good. All are enthusiastic.

Maybe Kirkwood should have taken a puff instead of such a long drag. Toke has some good ideas. But it could use a rewrite.