KPBS AIRDATE: January 18, 1995
In “Orgasmo Adulto Escapes from the Zoo,” K. Bartlit’s one-woman show at the Fritz Theatre written by Italian satirist Dario Fo and his wife Franca Rame, the piece tells the stories of five women. You wouldn’t want to know any of them. They’re funhouse mirror distortions of everything unfortunate and ugly about marriage, motherhood, fantasizing, playing with dolls, and the names of female sex acts and body parts. Hence, the title. “Adult orgasm,” says one of the evening’s several madly unhappy wives. “It sounds like some kind of animal.” And then declaims an imaginary headline: “Adult Orgasm Escapes from the Zoo.” Each of these women is victimized — mostly by their men, but also by society, by the church. They can’t escape from their cages. “Maybe I’ll never be able to speak out,” says a woman who’s been stabbed and is bleeding to death. “Or maybe I will.”
There’s a lot of repetition here, and not much hope, but Fo’s works, in varying degrees of farcical extravagance, are often politically didactic. In this production, with its wonderfully cluttered stage, K. Bartlit is too frenetic at times. Very agile and overly active, she gets winded and she makes us dizzy. She’s not at all believable when she speaks conspiratorially to the audience; she’s best in her quieter, unscreamed moments. Her speeches of controlled hysteria, of seething desperation, are most effective. And her comic antics are often quite funny.
One-woman shows are tough to pull off. Even tougher when you don’t like the characters, even when what they say is uncomfortably humorous or delirious.
©1995 Patté Productions Inc.