What Women Talk About
nytheatre.com review by Alyssa Simon
October 6, 2005
If you were a space alien with an assignment to discover what human females discuss with each other when human males are not around, you could go see What Women Talk About at the Kraine Theatre and be thoroughly entertained by four actresses with knockout talent and comic timing. You could also deliver a report that what women mostly discuss are men, sex, and clothes.
Since the audience, at least the night I saw it, was made up solely of Earthlings totally enjoying the show, it was understood that these are four women out of millions who just happen to be talking about these particular subjects and little else. The entirely unscripted performance clocks in at just a few minutes over an hour and is a continuing story. You have to attend the next show to find out what happens. This means there is time for further character development.
And, on this particular night, the given circumstance for the improv was the wedding day of Sara, a twentysomething woman with a past drug habit and ambivalent feelings about her marriage. It makes sense that what to wear, past relationships, and the wedding night would be topics of conversation.
Her friend Bonnie, a married casting director whom she has known since high school, has taken charge of planning the wedding, down to having lunches with Sara's fiancé and future mother-in-law. Joining her and Sara in the bridal suite for a pre-wedding celebration is Sophie, a college friend to them both and a photographer in the midst of a divorce. Jean, Sophie's childhood friend but new to the group, is the last arrival. She is a single education coordinator and it is not clear at this point whether Sophie may have romantic feelings for her. All of these situations are interesting enough to continue and grow in future plot lines.
The whole cast is superb as individuals and as an ensemble: each actress comes on from the beginning with a total persona that sets her apart from the rest and that makes for dynamic interactions and conflict. Lauren Seikaly (Bonnie) plays the one who seems to have it all together. Her crisp physical actions and acting choices show her to be a person who needs to be in charge. Lynne Rosenberg (Jean) is hysterically funny. Her intelligence shines through her dry delivery and Dorothy Parkeresque wit. Brenna Palughi (Sophie) has some of the best comic timing around. Sophie says terribly nasty things to her friends, but Palughi is also versatile enough to endow her character with complexity and surprises the audience with moments of genuine thoughtfulness and empathy. Katherine Heller (Sara) is not only quick-witted in her verbal reactions, she (along with the others) is incredibly generous on stage in terms of listening and setting up reactions that make the funny lines of the others land.
Although I at first thought, "Why is this so important that it's titled What Women Talk About, as if it's all that women talk about? It's only a fraction of what I talk to my friends about. Why can't they talk about sports or science? Why should we only be interested in what young, attractive, Caucasian women talk about, and that's only if they are talking about guys?"—the cast really won me over with their full and humane performances. I admitted to myself that if I had brought a girlfriend along to the show, among the many things we would talk about afterwards would be where Seikaly found those awesome silver strappy high-heeled shoes.