PATTY RED PANTS
nytheatre.com review by Matt Freeman
"Little Red Riding Hood" as a Freudian sexual awakening is not a
new concept. Patty Red Pants proves to be provocative and
entertaining despite treading these well-charted waters. This
production has just what you’re looking for at FringeNYC: youth,
ambition and invention.
August 15, 2002
Using Red Riding Hood as a backdrop, playwright Trista Baldwin treats us to the friendship of Patty Red Pants and Becky Bloom. Budding teens, they navigate an adolescent dreamscape, danger at every turn. "Wolves" abound: Denny’s waiters, aggressive stepfathers and young boyfriends all take on the same ominous shape. Pervading even the most trivial conversation is the murder of "Lisa Michelle," a babysitter who wandered too far into the nearby woods alone.
Director Tania I. Kirkman’s expertise is evident here as Trista Baldwin’s dense script could have been incomprehensible in lesser hands. The production never lets up, taking us to familiar places even as we are disoriented by the ever shifting narrative. It’s dizzying, but well under control. In aid of Kirkman’s vision is a well realized design, especially the variations of "wolf" costuming and the lighting of the "forest."
The three actors are wonderful. Susan O’Connor is fantastic as Patty; awkwardly graceful and wonderfully funny. The audience adored her. Romy Nordlinger is a tiny powerhouse, infusing Becky Bloom with such dignity that even her self-doubt seems empowered. Chris Libby, saddled with some of the script’s most thankless material, wins the audience with an inherent sweetness. He performs the parade of desperate seducers with a constant wink. He, too, is in on the joke.
The scripts soars and crashes; not everything works. It was alienating that every male presented was a wolf in disguise. Still, the male here is never the point...he is the fearsome "other." Baldwin moves from the poetic to the mundane skillfully, but doesn’t seem completely in command of the material. In the end, little is resolved, only to be blamed on faulty memory. I felt ready for more. Patty Red Pants is a wonderful journey that deserves a sharper ending.