Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Women Laughing Alone with Salad
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Also see Susan's review of Hay Fever


Kimberly Gilbert, Janet Ulrich Brooks,
and Meghan Reardon

Women Laughing Alone with Salad, Sheila Callaghan's play receiving its world premiere at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, examines issues of female body image and gender roles in society with anarchic humor and a great deal of lettuce. Four fearless performers led by Kimberly Gilbert revel in every moment of excess, well staged by director Kip Fagan.

The inspiration behind Women Laughing Alone with Salad was a blog post of the same name that showed a series of stock photos of comfortably dressed women smiling or laughing as they hold bowls of salad. Callaghan begins her play with a scene of three diverse women (Gilbert, Meghan Reardon, Janet Ulrich Brooks) sitting together on a park bench, each with her own salad bowl, laughing uncontrollably.

The playwright uses the image of women enjoying salads as a gateway into society's ideals of women. She begins with the idea that women who eat salad are happy, healthy, and desirable—unlike those selfish, unattractive woman who would rather eat dessert—and drives it to hilarious, absurd, unsettling heights.

Generously proportioned Meredith (Gilbert) yearns for satisfaction of body and soul in a world where the images she sees depict women as thin, conventionally beautiful, and happy with their salads. Slender, blonde Tori (Reardon) would appear to fit the mold, but her exasperated boyfriend Guy (Thomas Keegan) sees the strain that goes into her maintaining the fa├žade. And then there's Sandy (Brooks), Guy's mother, who was a political activist in her younger years but now devotes all her efforts to radical anti-aging techniques.

That's about all the audience should know going in. Callaghan's insights shoot out from unexpected places, with the impact of Fagan's direction intensified by Melanie George's choreography and Joe Isenberg's fight choreography. Jared Mezzocchi's video designs also add measurably to the sense of disorientation.

The play is one of 50 new works by women playwrights being showcased by professional theaters in the Washington metropolitan area through the Women's Voices Theater Festival.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Women Laughing Alone with Salad
September 7th - October 4th
By Sheila Callaghan
Meredith: Kimberly Gilbert
Tori: Meghan Reardon
Sandy: Janet Ulrich Brooks
Guy: Thomas Keegan
Directed by Kip Fagan
641 D St. N.W., Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-393-3939 or www.woollymammoth.net


Photo: Scott Suchman


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.


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