KPBS AIRDATE: November 16, 2001
Girls rock in the theater — well, at least in some ways, and at least through the weekend. Three current local productions focus on the plight of young women — whether lost, oppressed or emotionally disturbed.
Eveoke Dance Theater’s latest venture, “House of Hysteria,” also known less demurely as “Flood: The Wandering Uterus,” confronts the crisis of women in the American mental health system. Personally, I like more dance and less performance art in my dance theater, but choreographer Gina Angelique loves to be a provocateur as well as an agitator for social change. She uses actors Tim West and Betty Matthews as automaton oppressors, set among a profusion of maimed body parts and writhing dancers. The message is hard-hitting and brutal, but there are some beautiful images, tempered by whimsy and the riveting moves of young April Tra as the Butterfly Witch.
Behind the “Redwood Curtain,” up in Northern California, thousands of battle-scarred Vietnam Veterans are still n hiding. Asian American Repertory Theatre has mounted a lovely, spare production of Lanford Wilson’s appealing 1993 play. The story of an Amerasian girl searching the Redwood forest for her Vietnam Vet father is overly pedantic at times, but it informs, even as it exasperates. This pared-down production inventively leaves a lot to the imagination. Under Robert Dahey’s taut, sure-handed direction, the cast is effective, though Anne Tran is a bit less magical and Sandra Eagye a little less eccentric than one might wish. But James Webb absolutely nails the Vet’s menace, loss and fear.
A magnificent ensemble is bringing “Lot’s Daughters” to life at Diversionary Theatre. The first professional staging of the play by Southerner Rebecca Basham is set in rural Kentucky, 1944 — a place of inbreeding, amorality and fundamentalist misogyny. An unlikely place for forbidden love to bloom. But the furtive relationship soars, under the wing of Shannon Diana and Kate Reynolds, the gifted 16 year-old daughter of acclaimed director Rosina Reynolds. The rest of Reynolds’ cast is stellar, from Joe Powers’ hellfire, hypocrite of a preacher to DeAnna Driscoll as his busybody wife, Karla Kash as a free spirit and humorous Jeremy Shepard and strait-laced Scott Coker as the young men of the town. The play may have a few too many ideas on its mind, but Basham’s voice is clear, and well worth listening to. Diversionary productions just keep getting better, women keep getting stronger, and San Diego theater keeps being something you can’t afford to miss.
©2001 Patté Productions Inc.