Thursday, July 8, 2010

Show #33 "The Female of the Species" at ACT Theatre

The women's movement has sure come a long way.

First, women fought to win to right to vote. This was followed by the right to run for public office, to join the military and to enter the work force.

Heck, we even won the right to our own cigarette brand (hence, the slogan by Virginia Slims, "You've come a long way, Baby") so we can develop lung cancer and blow out second hand smoke with equality. What more could the feminist movement achieve?

Well, Baby, we've now got our own theatrical farce.

And what a great farce it is. "The Female of the Species" is a delectable dish of half-crazed characters delivering emotionally-volcanic monologues in the midst of gun-waving battles and delicious temper tantrums. And that was just the first two characters who appeared on stage.

Never mind the over-wrought daughter, the manically wimpy son-in-law, the hyper-activist caveman cab driver and the motor-mouthed gay book publisher......

Ridiculous stereotypes? Insulting characterizations? You bet. But, folks, that's the whole point.

The feminist movement is no longer only made up of the activists without a sense of humor. Those who have come before us, the marching Suffragette and the bra-burner, are no longer on the cover of Life Magazine and the subject of political rallies and Sunday sermons.

We've come a long way since then. We can now poke fun at the women who paved the way for the many choices and opportunities that 21st century females can now enjoy.

And the best part of this play is this: it pokes fun at women (and men) of all walks of life. It laughs at the man-hating crusader, the male chauvinist, the "sensitive man," the housewife and stay-at-home mother, the career woman and the college co-ed. Nothing is sacred here, and that is how it should be.

Good farce is even-handed. It shouldn't exist to make fun of only one side of an issue. If it did, then it is only thinly-veiled propaganda disguised as theatre. Sadly, too much of theatre performed in the Seattle/Tacoma region suffers from this offense.

But this? THIS is good stuff. Thank you, ACT, for giving us this gift. It helps me keep the faith in local theatre and its willingness to present different ideas, not just the politically correct ideas.


Graphics courtesy of ACT Theatre

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