2022 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Interrupted’ by Hyla Matthews (5 stars)

An optimistic and funny solo performance that brings us together around the artist's loss and pain.

Grief is at the heart of Hyla Matthews’ humorous one-woman show, Interrupted. Infertility, breast cancer, multiple surgeries for brain cancer, and the death of her father, the painter Paul Matthews, also make this an unlikely joyful evening.

In its evocative staging with images from her father’s paintings in the background and points of red on the stage — her shoes, the music stand  — one feels we are entering the creative studio of her mind. Kathryn Chase Bryer, the associate artistic director of Imagination Stage, serves as director. Erin Taylor as stage manager, Paul Callahan as lighting designer, and Dan Dobson, with the high-impact images as projection designer, transform the stage.

Matthews shares her spirit freely. She admits her frailties. She cannot move past the death of her father, who died on January 15, 2019. She married at 40 and was faced with infertility when she tried to conceive. She found a lump while breastfeeding her baby boy. She cannot remember every word easily (four brain surgeries).

“Facing-death sex is better than make-up sex,” she asserts. Before moving to DC in 2009, Matthews performed stand-up comedy and improv in Los Angeles and has acted in film, TV, and commercials. Her delivery is spot-on.

In Interrupted, Hyla Matthews is optimistic and funny, and only when she forces the title of her show into her monologue does she stumble. The title, and its metaphor, do not work to deepen our sense of her. We are grieving — and laughing with her; we are with her for every moment of this performance.

At one point toward the end, she breaks out into a playful song about her loss and pain and invites the audience to join in, which all do with verve — and joy. Matthews is a survivor. We have had three years of a pandemic; we have lost loved ones too, but with Hyla Matthews for her 60-minute show, we are not alone.


Running Time: 60 minutes, no intermission.

Interrupted plays two more times — July 22, 2022, at 5:30 pm and July 24 at 12 pm — at REPRESENTATION – Formerly Washington Sports Club, 3270 M Street NW, Washington, DC. To see the performance schedule and purchase tickets ($15), go online.

COVID Safety: The audience is to remain masked for the show. The mask needs to cover your mouth and nose the whole time. Proof of vaccination and ID are checked before entry.

Genre: Comedy
Age appropriateness: Appropriate for Adults Only


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