nytheatre.com review by Anoush Froundjian
August 18, 2006
Aspiration Housewife is more than just a play with a beautiful flow of dialogue and dance, and amazing musical selections. Choreographer Jessica Bonenfant has created in this piece a dazzling world, where women wear aprons, giggle, and are not always happy to receive brand new household appliances.
The Femme Lucida (Itsuko Higashi) is the advisor—the dancing sage who mediates the women in the story. Betty Formica (Carolyn Siegel, also a writer of the play) used to work in an advertising agency, and was very good at her job. She met Ted Formica (Mike Kohn) and became a stay-at-home wife. Somehow, clotheslines, household appliances, and a hand duster have taken over her daily routine. She insists on going back to work, and quietly notices the ongoing flirtation between Paige, the ad girl, (Vanessa Hardy) and her husband.
Meanwhile, Girleen (Sara Greenfield) has two opportunities of a lifetime—a marriage proposal and an opportunity to intern at a magazine company in New York. Girleen is engaged to Brad (Stephen Chan), the handsome, wealthy boy from high school, whose family everyone knows, and she deals with his possessive and dominant nature. Girleen's friends Ginger (Rachel Borgman) and Virginia (Errin Delperdang) flutter around and giggle at Girleen's romance with Brad. Ginger and Virginia enjoy being girls and experiment with whether they want the same lifestyle that Girleen is aiming for. If all it takes for a smile is an iron or new eggbeater, these girls should be ecstatic. So why aren't they?
Their smiles aren't real all the time. The world tells them that happiness is a brand new household implement, being provided for, and knowing that her husband is content.
The set is beautiful and inviting. Ropes turn into clotheslines, and hanging dresses get taken down while baby clothes are pinned in their place. Bright-colored skirts whirl as the girls dance angelically. The play is unique and innovative, and the eclectic music and the use of sound and voice recording bring it to a different dimension. The plastic smiles and sometimes-robotic movements give the piece an almost-sci-fi feel.
Aspiration Housewife is lovely and smart. There's no right way to use an iron—or meat mallet. Theatre has been yearning for a play like this for a long time. This play is the goods.