Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron
Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.
Lining the three sides of Dobama Theatre's thrust stage for their production of Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. are hundreds of pairs of shoes leading back to a large pile of upstage stage right. One can only speculate as to their meaning. They might be there to remind us that not all of the parts of this play may be a comfortable fit for everyone.
Revolt came about when the Royal Shakespeare Company challenged playwright Alice Birch to write something inspired by the quote, "well-behaved women rarely make history." The result is a number of radical militant feminist manifesto vignettes that illustrate the failings relationships in general and the male species in particular since time immortal. This is not necessarily a bad thing. This production is directed by Sarah Elizabeth Wansley.
The work uses a sledgehammer approach. The production begins with a darkened stage and loud klaxon horn, as a large translucent piece of plastic is ripped down revealing a small platform stage and a four-person all-female punk band who breaks into their first song. About the musicit includes such memorable ditties as "Hard Out Here" by Lily Allen, with the line "It's hard out here for a bitch", Allen's "Fuck You" that sweetly sings "Fuck you, Fuck you very, very much," and a number by Pussy Riot called "Police State" that states "I'm so happy I could die."
The play covers a variety of male/female conflicts, such as sexual dominance ("Invert It"), marriage ("Do Not Marry"), employment ("Don't Do It"), children ("Don't Reproduce"), the female body ("Make Sex Available Constantly"), language ("No Words Exist"), health ("Stop Eating"), and communication ("Stop Speaking"), which leads to the final extended piece ("Galvanize") that is a rapid-fire cacophony hitting on the remaining subjects of sex slavery, cupcakes, porn, penis-shaped baked goods, hymen reconstruction, vagina mutilation, high heels, T-shirts, lack of police protection, women who leave their husbands for other women, and plural relationships, just to name a few.
The high energy cast consists of (in no particular order) Lisa Louise Lanford, Nina Domingue, Rachel Lee Kolis, Miranda Leeann, and Abraham McNeil Adams as "The Token Male." They bring a high degree of anger, laughter, pathos, verbiage and truth as they deal with the unspeakable. The set design by Tesia Dugan Benson can be described as industrial functional with crates marked "fragile" used for an assortment of set-ups. Lighting designer Jakyung Cho Seo shines as she uses illumination as a weapon for good. The sound design by Megan Culley is the "shock and awe" part of the show that really gets the audience's attention and focus.
The play comes with the warning "This Play Is Not Well Behaved!" It's a messy play with blood, vomit, water, pamphlets, money and food flying all over the place. As the audience was filing out at the performance I attended, a large stage crew was immediately attacking the performance area in a coordinated massive clean-up.
Disturbing! Visual! Loud! This play fully captures all of the unleashed pent-up fury of being a woman in the 21st century. Should men attend? Hell yes! Should couples attend? Hell yes! Bring the kids? Hell no! Just be warned that you are in for a jarring experience much akin to your first exposure to Caryl Churchill's Cloud 9 and Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. It is the type of theater that can bring empires down.
Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., through February 17, 2019, at Dobama Theatre, 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights OH. Tickets may be purchased online at www.dobama.org or by phone at 216-932-3396.