Fefu and Her Friends - Theatre Review

By Annette Semerdjian

"Theatre is life! Life is theatre," exclaims Caro Zeller who plays Emma in the internationally cast "Fefu and Her Friends." Emma is just one of the characters that comes from all walks of life and further adds to the theatrics of this production with her lively performance. This eccentric and unique theatrical experience is Barnsdall Art Park's historic Hollyhock House's first play and a revival of the 1977 Maria Irene Fornés story.

Theatre is truly alive in this journey through a night with eight women who come together for a philanthropic event and take the audience on an adventure through different rooms for each scene. Aline Barnsdall's vision of creating a center for arts and theatre at the Hollyhock House comes to fruition with this new feminist play.

Tunde Skovran brings Fefu to life as the exuberant and outlandish owner of the country home where the play is set. Skovran delivers perfect comedic timing often abruptly switching the mood from the cathartic moments of other characters. Fefu's friends complement her overbearing characteristics, while Julia, played by Julia Ubrankovics, often challenges Fefu's dominant traits. Julia is a character who has endured the submission to patriarchal figures and fights back to Fefu's controlling traits. Skovran and Ubrankovics play off each other perfectly as two women who symbolize the challenges of male and female polarity.

Each character shares her fears and struggles to find a place in the world as a woman. Although the play is set in 1935, Fornés' story rings true to this day.

The audience is incorporated into the setting of the play as they're split into groups and escorted by the characters and housemaids to the next scene. The play becomes ever more intimate with only 20 audience members per performance often sitting abreast the performers with no visible stage to separate them.

In all its poignancy and extravagance, "Fefu and Her Friends" brings the art of dramatics back to theater.

Running through May 28 at the Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Art Park, "Fefu and Her Friends" has sold out all shows. Premium tickets here.

Posted By Annette Semerdjian on May 10, 2017 02:25 pm | Permalink