Screaming Venus was founded with the intent of reviving the avant-garde aspect of Off-Off Broadway with a female sensibility. The four plays by emerging woman playwrights were vividly brought to life by four talented young actresses, and address the choices women make in a post-modern world. Despite the energy of the productions, there was a dated feel to the pieces, reminiscent of feminist plays of the 1960s and 70s.
Don't just do something, sit there, written and performed by Julie Blumenthal, and directed by Patty Litzen is a stream of consciousness of a young woman who finds her efforts to relax in a meditation class leave her more stressed out than ever. As her thoughts drift from the smug rituals of the class she begins to ponder the human condition, questioning the hypocrisies of 12-step programs, dysfunctional families and various existential issues. The piece, which is about ten minutes too long, has a quirky 1960s take on contemporary issues. Blumenthal's straightforward persona was quite refreshing, and held the audience's interest throughout. S. Ryan Schmidt's lighting created an intimate space for Blumenthal and her meditation mat. Lively rock 'n' roll music enhanced the '60s flavor.
Anna, the KGB and a Chocolate Lab, written and directed by Alison Solomon, is based on Gogol's From a Madman's Diary. The piece is a commentary on the destructive effects the corporate world has on women. The outdated concept of the "new woman" who has it all has been replaced with a harried woman forced to relinquish her soul to survive. Beth Tepper gave a frenzied and often hilarious performance, alternating between a control-freak executive and a Diana Rigg-style secret agent. Solomon's frenetic direction was appropriate for the edgy vehicle. Schmidt's glaring ungelled lights against the black box stage added urgency to the character's stark existence.
The Ice Lid, performed by Thea Emily Nelson, and co-written by Nelson with Michael Stock, is a fantasy journey through the psyche of an idealistic young woman. Nelson was a gentle flowerchild delighting in the sounds, light and color her soul reveals, as she confronts nature, science and her own existence. Schmidt's gentle colored lights lent a playful psychedelic touch to proceedings.
Angry Little People was adapted from Philip-Dmitri Galas' play by Margaret Cino and Carolyn Raship. Cino plays Helen, a woman caught in a dream world, unable to distinguish reality from fantasy. A 1950's feminine mystique type housewife imprisoned by alcohol and televison addiction, she strikes out at her husband Joe, and sometime friend Betty, blaming them for her inertia. Cino was a force of nature as Helen, drawing the audience in with her charm and pathos, then repelling them with her emotional neediness. Raship's tight direction maintained the desired intensity throughout. Schmidt's overlit TV set was distracting as was one overly bright area of the stage.
The uncredited costumes in all four pieces were attractive and complemented the performances.
|Don't...||Anna...||The Ice Lid||Angry...|