Loose Women of Low Character
nytheatre.com review by Kimberly 'Sparkle' Stewart
June 11, 2011
Currently running as a part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, Loose Women of Low Character is a series of vignettes and monologues that explore women’s relationships to each other and men through the prism of sexuality. The idea is intriguing but doesn’t quite come together.
A team of writers is credited as being behind the script. The result is a series of scenes and monologues that speak in distinctly different voices. Some are stylistically sketch comedy, others more poetic, and others fairly dramatic. Transitions are managed by a live singer and accompanist or the onstage bar staff. The bar staff discuss themselves or the women as they exit or enter. The show is buttoned by a poem performed by the ensemble celebrating aspects of the women in the play; the only cast member not represented is that of the Man.
Initially, I looked for connections that might carry us from one scene to the next, but did not find that kind of throughline. This made the flow of the production feel odd as certain transitions felt abrupt. Taken individually, the writing of several scenes stand out. These standouts include: a tale of lost luggage; teenaged sluts by number; and one young mother’s discovery of burlesque.
The actors take these various pieces and work with the material to create some beautiful moments. I enjoyed Dana Sumner-Pritchard’s turn as a young mother discovering that she can be sexy and beautiful, even after a drastic change in appearance. Her acting has an ease and naturalness that draws you to root for her. Melissa Patterson and Tatiana Gomberg are charming and energetic as teens trying to convince us and themselves that the signs they wear aren’t a big deal. Another favorite was Cooper Shaw’s hilarious performance of a woman about to be found out. Deborah Carlson and Lisa Riegel are affecting as a mother and daughter struggling for control of the daughter’s life. Natasha Lee Martin’s fierce comedy attack is matched with a believability that made her a joy to watch.
Jasmine Vogue Pai’s design is rather literal and involved for the fluidity of this type of play. It serves the needs of the individual scenes, but not necessarily the play. The sheer volume of set pieces slow the transitions down. Many of the exchanges between bar staff felt that they were added simply to keep the play’s forward momentum. The fact that a few of these scenes appeared to be played on book really detracted from the overall effect.