by Rob Askins, Joshua Conkel, J. Holtham, Anna Moench, Kristen Lee Rosenfeld, Luanne Aronen Rosenfeld, Jen Silverman
Directed by Dominic D’Andrea, Scott Ebersold, Julie Foh, Jessi D. Hill, Michael Perreca, Melanie Moyer Williams
Red Fern Theatre Company at The Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 East 14th Street
January 26, 2012 — February 12, 2012
production web site
Reviewed by Martha Wade Steketee
January 29, 2012
Six short pieces, from musical to farce to dire dark comedy address issues of public policy and civic duty in Red Fern Theatre Company‘s Created Equal. There is something for almost every theatre taste in this assemblage. “Occupied” follows a troupe of actors rehearsing for a demonstration; “Equal Time” is a delicious musical treatment of two candidates and two key staff people preparing for and participating in a public appearance; “Pull!” brings two Western sisters together over skeet shooting; “What the Wall Does” addresses political hypocrisy and two prostitutes; “Lex Before Marriage” combines two cousins and a farcical side story all dealing with two women marrying; and “America, You Kill Me” has bags of stage blood, drunk driving, income inequality, and black humor.
The two pieces that stand out most for me as evocatively realized one acts are the musical “Equal Time” (internal monologues of political focus and aspirations and great music) and the sister act story “Pull!” (Western gun-owning, be genuine and stand on your own feet versus immigrant Manhattanite with new recycling blue-state values). Of particular power are candidate Martha (Cicily Daniels) and staff person George (Brian Charles Rooney), and the sisters Emma (Pepper Binkley) and Katie (Dana Berger).
The pieces are tied together, as are the pieces in Universes‘ Ameriville, with social factoids (voting participation rates and insurance rates and gun ownership rates, that kind of thing). The themes that were selected or assigned to the various writing teams are clear. What is not as clear nor as successful in the Red Fern show is a coherence among the pieces. What Ameriville accomplishes is “a collection of stories bound by rhythms and movement” (quoting my own review). What Created Equal provides is a vaudeville containing pieces of widely varying styles and tones, with some highlights.
© Martha Wade Steketee (February 2, 2012)