5 POINTS OR LESS...
• very cool environmental theatre • deftly acted • surrealism that makes sense • get there early for a good seat and beware, they're a little uncomfortable
BOTTOM LINE: A show with a brain and a soul.
So, really honestly, when I was hanging out waiting for the show to start I was a little worried that Wickets (conceived, created, and directed by Clove Galilee and Jenny Rogers) would be little more than premise and gimmicks - what with the cast (already in their 1970's airline stewardess characters) taking our coats and checking our "boarding pass" tickets. Then, as I was reading the directors' notes, I was more than a little concerned - a singing angel as a woman's subconscious? There's a lot that could go sour with that.
So I was really happy to be dead wrong.
The actresses, a very strong ensemble lead by Lee Eddy, deftly flip between their characters' subconscious and the quite literally painted face they present to the passengers. Usually the hallmark of this convention is a sharp juxtaposition between the two, which sometimes comes at the expense of a consistent characterization. The women here manage to find the range between hysteria, detachment, genuine vulnerability and, in that, genuine strength, without becoming two different people. Quite a remarkable feat.
Jenny Rogers' script, adapted from the Maria Irene Fornes play "Fefu and Her Friends" examines the inner lives and public personas of a crew of stewardesses (pointedly not flight attendants) in the 1970's on a transatlantic flight from New York to Paris. The play is set at the cusp of the Women's Movement in one of the country's most sexist industries. I was, frankly, worried that it would take a turn toward the bitter and angry. And, while there is anger - most notably in the blatantly misogynistic "prayer" one of the characters offers - there is enough weight behind it that it serves the story and saves the show from the horrorland of agit-prop theater.
Wickets is realized with compassion, intellect, and grace on nearly every point. I would warn, however, that while the plane set-up is pretty ingenious from a storytelling point-of-view, the seats actually get pretty damn uncomfortable about 40 minutes into the show. Go anyway.