Review: Well of Horniness (Reasonable Facsimile Theatre)

  
  

Despite strong cast, feral lesbian romp jilted by clunky pacing

  
  

The Well of Horniness - A Reasonable Facsimile

  
A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Company presents
  
The Well of Horniness
  
Written by Holly Hughes
Directed by Samantha Garcia
at The Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln (map)
through April 30  |  tickets: $15  |  more info

Reviewed by Paige Listerud

Who doesn’t love lesbians on the loose? Well, maybe Peter LaBarbera—but, then, he looks like he hasn’t got laid in, like, forever. The rest of us would eagerly plunge headfirst into a production promising slap-dash Sapphic pleasure. Trouble is, Holly Hughes’ 1983 schlock comedy The Well of Horniness comes across more like a wet, sloppy kiss from your lesbian aunt than a well-placed riff on dangerous, dueling dykes and the bisexual gals who can’t forget them. Not that the cast of A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Company doesn’t give it the good, old (*ahem*) college try. But Samantha Garcia’s direction spreads out action, and not in a good way, across the Conservatory’s stage, often losing valuable focus and timing.

“These muffdivers have been looking for a rumble,” quotes detective Garnet McClit (Miquela Cruz) and that, at least, is one thing to be grateful for concerning individual performances. As Georgette, Karen Shimmin throws seductive glances over her shoulder like it was meant for you, and does feral, raccoon-raised lesbian with perfection. Angela DeMarco, as the redhead (rather, red-wigged) Babs, brings strong, pistol-packin’ bravado to the stage. Liz Hoffman’s absolutely scores with her daffy depiction of Vicki, who once belonged to the lesbian sorority, Tri Delta Tribads, but now faces married, middle class boredom with her carpet-clearance husband Rod, played with hearty, sympathetic charm by Susan Gaspar. Of the ladies, only Cruz needs to add a little seductive spice to her butch to raise the heat of night.

Tragically, even for schlock theater, the part of the Narrator (Emily Friedrick) is drastically overwrought. Hughes’ comedy is no police procedural or noir thriller, yet a little more attention to the dry style of those two genres might generate more laughs than Friedrick’s current delivery. As is, she comes across more like a town barker hawking her wares than a master of Hughes’ overwrought and over-punned exposition. Of course, a large part of the problem may be Hughes’ writing. It’s showing its age–and its fish jokes do have a limited shelf life. Clearly, schlock is a comic actor’s medium—you have to know when hold back and when shoot for the stars—sometimes without too much help from the script.

(L-R, back row) Karen Shimmin, Miquela Cruz, Susan Gaspar; (front row) Emily Friedrick, Liz Hoffman, Angela DeMarco - the cast of 'The Well of Horniness'

Most of all, the biggest crime seems to be those moments when the ladies play it safe. Police pat downs, prison scenes—these are the things that dreams are made of. They’re already salacious, by their very nature and pornographic history–now how to make them outrageous, transcending their formulaic predictability? That’s the formula that Garcia and cast have yet to work out. Much as I love Hoffman upping the silliness quotient for the show or DeMarco channeling Joan Crawford, The Well of Horniness still clunks along too disjointedly for a truly rad ladies’ night out. Let’s hope they can tighten things up in the course of the run. Do it for the sisters who are doin’ it for themselves!

  
  
Rating: ★★½
  
  

The Well of Horniness continues through April 30th, with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, at The Cornservatory Theater, 4210 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets are $12-$15. Make reservations online at www.arftco.com, or call 773-418-4475. Group rates are available. This show is for adults only.

 

Artists

Cast

Miquela Cruz*, Emily Friedrick, Susan Gaspar*, Liz Hoffman* Karen Shimmin* and Angela DeMarco*.

Production

The show is directed by Samantha Garcia*, set and costumes designed by Tina Haglund*, props designed by Susan Gaspar*, stage-managed by Hazel Marie*,
marketing by Steve Hickson*.

*A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre ensemble member.

     
     

Review: Bare Boned Theatre’s “The Hecubae”

The Hecubae Strains Between Ancient Poetry and Horrendous Modern Reality

Polyxena (Beth Allin, R) awaits sacrifice by the Son of Achilles  

Bare Boned Theatre presents

The Hecubae
by Rebekah Walendzak and Jeffrey Brouthiette
directed by Jeffrey Bouthiette
Running through Sunday, August 30th  (buy tickets)

What is Hecuba to us or we to Hecuba? The obvious answer could lie in the present-day struggles of women eking out an existence in war torn camps for displaced The ghost of Polydorus possesses the women of the chorus (clockwise from left: Cynthia Shur, Lorraine Freund, Sienna Harris, Emily Friedrick). persons. Bare Boned Theatre’s playwrights Rebekah Walendzak and Jeffrey Bouthiette have attempted to mesh the excruciating suffering of contemporary women in the midst of war with Euripides’ classic tale of a war-devastated queen. Unfortunately, what they have gained may be just equal with what they have lost in the process. Furthermore, substantial lack of clarity in some scenes may ruin the theatrical experience for those unacquainted with the original work.

On the plus side, the general shift in the play, from Hecuba surrounded by her attending women to the women being refugees in a contemporary camp, strengthens the Greek choral moments of the original play. Directed by Bouthiette, the unity of The Hecubae’s all-women cast is resilient and undeniable. Moments of song evoke the greatest power and hope for their survival.

One Greek choral moment in the beginning, however, must be thoroughly revised for greater clarity. The choral performance of Hecuba’s youngest child being killed by a trusted friend and ally is far too confusing. And the use of a woven mat to represent her child is far too amateur for this production.

Hecuba (Samantha Garcia) grieves the death of her daughterBare Bone’s modernization of Euripides becomes more effective with smaller touches—such as when a soldier with ruined legs, mounted on a makeshift cart, wheels onstage to tell Hecuba the latest bad news. The scene where Odysseus uses graphs to explain how Hecuba’s daughter will be sacrificed ranks as a near-perfect portrayal of rationalized brutality. Casting the young Samantha Garcia as Hecuba follows Bare Boned Theatre’s philosophy of non-traditional casting, yet Garcia’s command of Euripides’ poetic language conveys her Hecuba as noble as well as fallen.

How sad it is, then, when this adaptation splits scenes in such a way that poetry and dramatic tension are lost. Then contemporary travesties only obscure, instead of enlighten, Euripides’ words and drain away the potential for Hecuba to stand for all women in war.

Hecuba (Samantha Garcia, left) watches Hec015

It’s back to the drawing board for the playwrights. They must strive once more, not only to sustain a dramatic arc through crucial scene changes between the ancient and modern camps, but also to personalize and particularize the suffering of modern women in war for a truly meaningful adaptation. In general, clichéd representations of women’s suffering or victimization do not move people. People can feel sorry for the women represented in such a drama, but they cannot become emotionally engaged with their suffering as audiences should be.

Euripides knew how to make his deeply sexist, predominantly male Greek audience identify with Hecuba–with her powerlessness, her outrage, and her descent into dehumanizing violence. He could pull them from their positions of male privilege and plunge them into the profound depths of loss and despair that women in war know. We should be so lucky to have the same done to us.

Rating: «
 

Full Cast: Beth Allin, Lorraine Freund, Emily Friedrick, Samantha Garcia, Sienna Harris, Earlina “Earl” McLaurin, Cynthiaq Shur

Creative Team: Mike Smith (lighting design), Jeffrey Bouthiette (sound design), Matthew Buettner (scenic design), Aly Greaves (costume design), Chris Radar (Stage Manager)