Playwright: Corinne J. Kawecki
At: Pride Films and Plays at the Pride Arts Buena, 4147 N. Broadway. Tickets: $25; PrideFilmsAndPlays.com; 773-857-0222. Runs through: June 3
Contrary to popular stereotype, women's midlife crises are not always easily remedied with hormone supplements and jewelry. Sometimes it takes a full-blown visitation by a spectral succubus or two to dispel the unsettling prospects of encroaching bioturbulence making the cosmological confusion of puberty pale in comparison.
Our reluctant voyager is 53-year-old Julia, a once-hopeful photojournalist who now lies about her age when on assignment for the lesbian "walker" service providing her income. Ex-spouse Pax ( age 58 ) is an attorney considering a change of career. Paramour Treat ( age 28 ) aspires to fame as a Las Vegas sleight-of-hand magician. Socialite Ada ( age 76 ) is comfortable with her solitary life, despite occasionally hiring an escort for couples-only events.
Sharp-witted playgoers will quickly detect in these last three personae the Artemis-Aphrodite-Athena archetypes of Greek myth. This familiar trio has been summoned by playwright Corinne J. Kawecki to serve as a diagram of the attractions/responsibilities/rewards offered females of varying degrees of maturity, and by doing so, persuade our ambivalent Everywoman to set aside her paralyzing terror of growing older. By the time Julia achieves her epiphany in a scenario involving a treehouse and an epilogue referencing a few more classic literary night-journeys, the allegorical underpinnings of Kawecki's fable will be manifest.
Patience is required, however, since the technical limitations of the Buena's storefront stagee.g., bedcovers split down the middle of a single mattress to indicate two beds in two bedrooms, or an isolated wooden bench vainly hinting at an ornate home's front stooptoo often blur the boundaries between conceptual dreamscape and scenic economy. The resulting ambiguity makes for difficulty locating ourselves within our dramatic environment, delaying our comprehension of the narrative's philosophical dimensions.
What redeems Kawecki's unabashedly romantic tale, ultimately, is the uniformly unbiased compassion and credibility she bestows upon her characters, even unseen personnel commonly vilified as villains by less tolerant authors. Director Iris Sowlat and an ensemble featuring Pat Parks, Gay Glenn, Joan McGrath and Kendra Verhage ( whose mercurial Treat delivers some impressive cardplay under the instruction of pro illusionist Neil Tobin ) likewise convey warmth and humor sufficient to disarm any worrisome thoughts regarding the passing years disturbing our own sleep.