Ice Skating Show Go Figure! Is an Uneven Glide Down Memory Lane

Randy Gardner performs the one-man show, with help from his skating partner Tai Babilonia, left, and his good friend Dorothy Hamill.
Randy Gardner performs the one-man show, with help from his skating partner Tai Babilonia, left, and his good friend Dorothy Hamill.
Michon Halio

Be warned: If you're in your 20s or 30s, you're not the target demographic for Go Figure!, competitive figure skater Randy Gardner's retelling of his life. A full appreciation of the show requires a more in-depth knowledge of the world figure skating scene in the 1970s and '80s than most people born after the Lake Placid Olympics possess.

But even if your knowledge of that era of skating history is limited, it's easy to be drawn in by Gardner's story, written and directed by Josh Ravetch. Gardner, who with partner Tai Babilonia won the 1979 World Figure Skating Championships, is an earnest if unpolished storyteller. 

His delivery feels both over-rehearsed and under-prepared (particularly when his next lines are prompted by Ravetch, sitting in the audience), and both the truth and the chronology of events are occasionally glaringly ignored to serve the narrative (or whatever montage is up next). The show as a whole has an air of self-congratulation. 

Though Go Figure! doesn't exhibit the finesse of one of Gardner and Babilonia's winning routines, it's interesting to look back on American history through the perspective of a figure skater. Gardner shows how concepts such as the oppressive patriarchy of the 1950s and the U.S.S.R. aren't just storylines in period TV shows and movies; they're real parts of our history that affected people's day-to-day lives in complex ways.

NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; through June 14. nohoace.com.


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