COURTESY MARK GARVINKathleen Turner plays Molly Ivins in a one-woman show at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

COURTESY MARK GARVINKathleen Turner plays Molly Ivins in a one-woman show at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

Kathleen Turner takes on Molly Ivins

Clad in a pair of sassy red cowboy boots and an oversized denim button-down shirt, Kathleen Turner sits stage center and reads a newspaper article. “Personally, I love Americans,” Turner muses with a slight Texas drawl. “We think that the last words of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ are ‘play ball.’ Huge numbers of us believe in flying saucers, palm readers, horoscopes and pyramid power — a nation undeterred by reality! No wonder we went to the moon.

“And Iraq,” she quickly points out.

This isn’t Turner talking, per se. Rather, it’s the embodiment of the late Molly Ivins, the sharp-witted liberal journalist-author from Texas whose political rants and reflections are now the stuff of legend.

Turner makes her Berkeley Repertory Theatre debut this month, passionately filling Ivins’ shoes in “Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins.” The Oscar- and Tony-nominated actress relishes the role.

“It’s terribly important to me to be an activist, to be part of things I believe in and show up and speak out,” Turner says. “In that sense, I feel very bonded to Molly, because she believed strongly in people’s ability to do something, as do I.”

Penned by twin sisters Margaret Engel and Allison Engel and directed by David Esbjornson (“Thérèse Raquin”), the outing delivers Ivins’ fiery take on national politics and more.

“Any one-person show is a biggie,” Turner says. “Here’s the thing — Molly was a brilliant writer, but why should you come see this play instead of reading Molly’s book? I am that difference, in terms of making it come alive. That’s a really balancing act. That’s the challenge.”

It’s a challenge Turner easily handles. She’s both screen icon (“Peggy Sue Got Married,” “Prizzi’s Honor”) and stage dynamo (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”).

Asked what she loves most about acting, Turner sighs, and says, “Obviously, as the years go on, you really have to think about this, you know? I question it over and over.

“But one of the reasons I love stage so much is that there are some nights when I feel like my arms can snake all the way down the walls of the theater and hug everybody in it. Can you imagine me with 300-foot arms? But that’s how it feels — that I am holding everyone in a hug. And it’s just exciting. This is a great, great feeling.”

IF YOU GO

Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins

Presented by Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Where: Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison St., Berkeley

When: 8 p.m. most Tuesdays, Thursdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 7 p.m. most Wednesdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays; closes Jan. 4

Tickets: $29 to $89

Contact: (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org

artsBerkeley Repertory TheatreKathleen TurnerRed Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco leaders argue that plans to develop housing in the region’s transit-heavy urban areas are at odds with goals to increase equity for people of color.
SF officials fear regional housing strategy could increase displacement of people of color

Equity and climate goals at odds in plan that concentrates development in transit-rich urban areas

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority cut most of its bus service last year due to the pandemic, and has been slow to bring it back due to budget concerns and low ridership. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F. Examiner)
Supes urge SFMTA to expedite restoration of Muni lines

Resolution emphasizes focus on seniors, individuals with disabilities and community routes

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott listens at a rally to commemorate the life of George Floyd and others killed by police outside City Hall on Monday, June 1, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Will the Biden Administration help SF speed up police reform?

City has struggled to implement changes without federal oversight

Assemblymember David Chiu introduced a bill that would assist formerly incarcerated who are at risk of homelessness. <ins>(Ellie Doyen/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
David Chiu: Closing 5 California prisons would free up money to house former inmates

By Hannah Wiley The Sacramento Bee A California Democrat wants to keep… Continue reading

Lowell High School (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Students, families call for culture shift at Lowell after racist incident

District to explore changes including possible revision of admissions policy

Most Read