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San Francisco Fringe 2022

How to Catch a Karen

Naked Empire Bouffon Company

Genre: Bouffon, Comedy

Venue: EXIT Theatre, San Francisco


Low Down

Best of SF Fringe Winners bring you the immortal trickster witch, Baba Yaga, as she shapeshifts into a series of “progressive” Karens transporting the audience to familiar worlds where Karens thrive undercover.


“I know where you live in case you misbehave” Baba Yaga cackles mischievously. She is a trickster witch who speaks in mysterious tongues and arrives carrying a severed leg. She uses the leg to stir up mischief in a large cauldron that lets off steam at regular intervals. She is lively and asks us to use our imaginations to create the magic of theatre.

How to Catch a Karen is created by Sabrina Wenske and Nathaniel Justiniano and performed by Wenske. Wenske’s quirky character is loosely based on a mysterious character in folklore – and she strides about the stage and takes command of the space for the hour long show. Baba Yaga transforms herself with a sound of regurgitation into different characters with different voices, accents and personality.

She is comedic with her exaggerated gestures, and physicality, an expressive face, impish eyes and unexpected conversation! She shares contradictions of pop culture, sprinkles about buzzwords and make up tips. Space age music plays and she talks to us about finding our shadow selves. Topics are broad and to the point, including race, women, the army, star wars, plus politics of the eponymous Karen.

Wearing a blue leather hump on her back and a huge straw headdress Baba Yaga is one second an Eastern European healer gently coaxing us to follow her directions and then a modern down to earth character. When she struts she almost takes flight, this roguish trickster with a long curled finger nail is very well received by the audience.

Interactive and completely zany this show is relatable because of the endearing (and sometimes a tad scary!) character who talks about topics and concepts that are here and now in everyone’s common experience. She is a pop soothsayer, a mirror of our society, a mischief maker, and a bouffon.

Wenske improvises briefly with audience members, and cajoles us all with provocative questions. Her bouffon character allows her to have conversations with us and with herself in a way that one person shows don’t usually. Baba Yaga weaves her spells on us, she is enthralling, with endless catch phrases, content tropes and challenges. Also, she goes there, and further!