nytheatre.com review by Julie Blumenthal
August 15, 2004
Antfarm contains the seeds for a strong play—viable characters and a worthwhile scenario, from a writer with an ear for dialogue and the occasional zinger. However, like its titular environment, it’s in need of some time and development by its participants before it will become a complex and intriguing world of its own.
Writer Tayannah Lee McQuillar sets the action in a dorm, where two college roommates spar about self-image and sexuality. Out, proud (and loud) lesbian Sidney displays a macho front of nonchalance and full disclosure, while roommate Lynn is largely the foil, responding to Sidney’s chest-thumping, tangled love life, and eventual admissions of secrecy, keeping her own agenda in the background. That is, until the last moments, when her emotions pour out: jealousy, confusion and her own hidden love for Sidney.
It’s an opportunity for an exploration of coming-of-age, self-discovery, and the risks of these things in an era when we might believe we’re past such fears. But Antfarm, weighing in at only a half-hour, glosses only the outlines of this journey, and doesn’t do enough to delineate the individuals and the deeper motives lying under the surface. McQuillar's cast, apparently the very ages of the ladies they portray, are full of hip enthusiasm; but they (and their director) also haven’t found the depth needed to take this piece to the next level.
It’s rare that I’d like a show to be longer (!), but McQuillar and her gang (remaining nameless here only because the performance I attended had run out of programs, and not through any intent on my part) have the beginnings of a lovely piece here. I hope they’ll pursue it further.
A side note: It’s interesting that the ensemble contains no men, and no straight characters, but a full rainbow of minorities and disabilities: Lynn, the modern American offspring of traditional Japanese parents; Sidney, the black lesbian; Marisol, the Latina bisexual; and Rachel (aka “Batty”), not only blind but Jewish (or should that be the other way around?). Again, it would take more development of these ladies as characters in their own rights to take this array beyond its initial impact as a sort of remarkable quota-filling. It does seem odd that in such an openly heterogeneous world, shame over being gay, in one way or the other, should be the one feature shared among the diverse group; yet another provocative idea worth some digging.