According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Girl Detective

Curvy girls to entice, and choreography that's nice; that's what Girl Detective is made of. The metaphysical and mythological splice in this ensemble piece adapted from Kelly Link's short story of the same title. Unfortunately, the show lacks coherence in all other areas with a cast that's too large and a narrative sans focus.
Reviewed by Cindy Pierre

Campy is as campy does. With an intro reminiscent of “Police Woman” (1970s show starring Angie Dickinson), karate chops and tumbles inclusive, it it immediately clear that The Girl Detective will be visually stimulating. As it progresses, it doesn't disappoint on that regard. Adapted and directed by Bridgette Dunlap, The Girl Detective has dancing bank robbers, slinky restaurant diners, and overzealous narrators to keep your eyes darting to and fro. However, trying to decipher a theme or message beyond an abstract revamping of the Persephone myth with a sprinkling of mystery and intrigue would require you to work harder than The Guy (a dry Ben Wood) does to stay atop his vantage point (Emily French's creative-looking “tree).

At the center of this presentation is the Girl Detective (Kathryn Ekblad), an admired and desired, flawed and endowed with the “law”, heroine. She is a daughter on the hunt for her mother, eating dreams and unearthing truth along the way. The ensemble lobby facts about her to each other and to the audience, and never deign us with an explanation of purpose. Ekblad, camouflaged in the choreographed sequences, distinguishes herself only when she is allowed to dwell on the emotions associated with losing her mother. She does so well, but simultaneously slows down what seems to be a preset, haphazard pace for the piece.

If anything, the play communicates a very feminist perspective, promoting girl power in its portrayal of women who are independent, fancy-free, and sexy. It demonstrates what transpires with the presence of women, and delineates the dream-scape that occurs without them. With the telling line that “the mothers are usually missing in fairytales”, the very notion that a girl's flights of fancy exist because of the absence of a strong, maternal presence is implied. Or, if you prefer, all mothers are and perhaps should be stolen away into dance, and thereby, validates escapism. Of course, this is merely speculation, as no strong disposition towards either exists. Historical heroines such as Amelia Earhart are name-dropped, and stories about strong women are folded unto stories like streams of birthday cake batter.

Whitney Stock's choreography is fun and imaginative, but executed clumsily by the troupe. They are hopelessly out of sync, and those that repeatedly flub their steps are placed at the outskirts. In character, they struggle to distinguish themselves from each other and nondescript names such as Birthday and Housekeeper are fitting. Ironically, with all the activity developing onstage, the principal players of this piece are behind the scenes, or more apropos, the vignettes. Chris Rummel provides eerie sound effects and a good score. French selects costumes that are easily augmented and stripped away to allow for the fluid and frequent changes.

The Girl Detective appears to be bent on investigating the substance of the dreams of girls. From a world that doesn't necessitate eating to naughty indulgence, it is as much a work of inward expression as it is a work of psychoanalytical regression. Here, girls are free to pirouette and plie through their musings with no lasting consequences. There's something to be said about the allure of that world. But we need more that what's presented here to access it.
Through March 17th. Connelly Theater220 E. 4th St.New York, NY 10009 Ticket Price: $15 Ticket Information: TheaterMania: 212-352-3101;

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