One toke over the line

Tenaya Hurst starts off as the Auntie Mame of marijuana before her life hits some rough patches in Toke, Deedee Kirkwood’s comedy at Ashby Stage.

As noted a few columns back, summer often brings unexpected and often eccentric stage offerings that slide into theaters that are on summer break. A perfect example is Toke, a labor-of-love play that Deedee Kirkwood has been cultivating for years. Self-produced in 2003 in Hollywood under the title Peace for Pot, Kirkwood’s comedy takes over the Ashby Stage in Berkeley on Aug. 18 while Shotgun Players presents Road to Hades in John Hinkel Park.
Toke centers on Weedee, whose role as the Auntie Mame of marijuana during the breezy 60s hits some rocky territory as the story continues to the present day, though the play is billed as “a madcap comedy.” There is the guilt over abandoning her first love after he returns from Vietnam a broken man, before confronting such issues as abortion, politics, sexual exploration, and domestic abuse. Weedee ends up in a German commune, an Afghan campground, and a dispirited marriage before finding peace and a strengthened commitment to cannabis.
Tenaya Hurst heads the four-member cast under Patricia Miller’s direction. Kirkwood also includes the late marijuana advocate Jack Herer in the credits, describing him as her inspiration and muse. Toke will run through Sept. 11. Tickets at