At: Studio Theater, Chicago Cultural Center
Phone: (773) 486-8261; $10
Runs through: Dec. 20
Believe me, the title of this 'ensemble-created show about personhood' is its most
provocative aspect. What we have here is a collection of banal rites of passage
experienced by young American girls and women. Those looking for innovation,
freshness, or a new outlook on femininity or growing up should kindly look
elsewhere. The all-female, six-member ensemble takes us through a slow 50
minutes, touching on such run-of-the-mill milestones as menstruation, growing
breasts (naturally), relationships with the opposite sex, eating disorders, and
sisterhood, in the universal sense.
Now, that's not to say such material is intrinsically dull. The universality of the
commonplace can often be gripping, funny, and poignant, as it hits home with all of
us. But if you're going to build a theatrical piece around these rather pedestrian
passages, you need to bring to it some fresh perspective, a unique vision, and a
clear and engaging voice. This Adler Danztheatre Project production does none of
The press material promises a program of 'poetry, dance, text, music, and
movement.' All are present here. But the poetry is of the rhyming, high-school level
of depth and execution. The dance is no better than what one can see on the dance
floor at any club on Saturday night. Worse, the dance is accompanied mostly by
recordings of bland Top-40 style music. The 'text' and 'movement'? Well, those
things exist in any play … one needs to do something creative with them to make an
audience sit up and take notice.
Under Kerensa Peterson's seemingly non-existent direction (one has the sense
that the performers directed themselves; and such direction is often self-indulgent
and not critical), the show meanders through its topics without a clear through-line.
The ensemble itself is game enough—and they're out there with big grins and an
obvious desire to give their all to the show—are not accomplished performers,
although some of them demonstrate potential for more finished talent down the
road, in particular Claudia Walters, who seems to have a firmer reign on her
abilities and limitations than the rest of the cast.
I had hoped for more from this feminine-centric, multi-media piece, perhaps
something along the lines of the annual (and very good) Estrogen Fest. These
women need to take some time to attend the next incarnation of that performance
piece … to see how it's done.