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The Ugly Duckling - Theatre Review |
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Demin Doves - Theatre Review
By Rachel Flanagan
"Denim Doves" is self-described as a feminist farce, with music, stuck somewhere between "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Idiocracy." The audience joins in one morning to witness a small commune made up of a five seemingly clueless woman who have an affinity for denim, singing silly ritualistic songs and performing the act of procreation with their husband, the completely immature Penis, who only became husband after his uncle's mysterious death. With characters introducing the show in a comedic way with the use of loudspeakers, hymnals and pieces of denim in hand, one might feel like they are in for a fun ride with the denim-clad clan.
Miss Barbie-Q as Interpreter 1
Photo by Jessica Sherman Photography
In this small commune, the four younger wives are happy to follow in the footsteps of the older first wife, the only one who has officially planted seed during the blood moon and given birth to a son, now an adult still living at home and uninterested in finding his own wives. While Penis is in charge, he seems completely naïve and juvenile and it isn't until a mysterious sixth wife arrive that the secrets the first wife has been keeping from both Penis and the other wives begins to seep through. It seems that first wife has used the naivety of the rest of the family to rig the mating ritual so that no new births happen and so that no one comes to the commune to find out that they're not living as they should in this post-apocalyptic world.
Much like the hand shaking mating ritual, this farce left much to be desired. With such a relevant and topical subject, there was no clear direction in playwright Adrienne Dawes' play to help guide the audience through the story. Silly nonsensical songs, inane procreation rituals, a full frontal male nudity scene and at times breaking the fourth wall to bring the audience into the story seem to be nothing more than a distraction tactic so that the audience forgets there is supposed to be a story here about men and women who are willing to stand up against their oppressors and eventually learn to stop hiding and fight for what they believe in.
There are so many unanswered questions and hints to a story with more depth that the silly antics just seem to be contrived. The hymnals handed out before the show were used once and the show didn't even seem to use some of the hymns so that one could attempt to follow along somehow, someway. Plus, we were all instructed to take a piece of denim as it was "important to the story" and I'm not quite sure if it was forgotten or just another theatrical bit designed to make the audience forget that this playwright had an agenda but chose a confusing platform for which to present.
The acting chops weren't bad, Corey Walter Johnson did a wonderful job as the bumbling and clueless Penis who just wanted to practice his inappropriate comedy skills. Janellen Steininger, Meg Cashel, Jennie Kwan, Lana Rae Jarvis and Teri Gamble left nothing to be desired in their dancing, singing and apparently forbidden guitar playing skills as the wives. Evangeline Crittenden was a very enthusiastic sixth wife ready to perform the mating ritual the right way and willing to do whatever it took to belong and follow. Tyler Bremer was probably the most fun to watch as the first son unwilling to grow up and Miss Barbie-Q was a welcome breath of enthusiasm as the prophet who really saved the day. The alternating projections by designer David M. was one of the few welcomed distractions. If I never have to see fake blood pooled in an irregular shape on white sheets pulled from under a woman's bottom again, it'll be too soon. Should you go to see "Denim Doves" at Sacred Fools you'll probably laugh, but the only thing you'll take away from the experience is a piece of denim.
Even though the story isn't easily comprehensible, "Denim Doves" takes on the subject of sex, menstruation and feminism in a celestial dystopian future with a unique brazenness that is both refreshing and welcomed in our present society. "Demin Doves" plays through February 17 at
January 30, 2018 04:30 pm
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