Thursday, December 12, 2019

Review of Red Tape Theatre's Queen of Sock Pairing

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Queen of Sock Pairing. It was by Sophie Weisskoff, and it was directed by Zach Weinberg. It was about Celia (Elena Victoria Feliz), who was at the beginning of her independent adult life as an artist. She is trying to find ways to navigate her love life, her desires, her art, and her purpose. This is made more difficult by her toxic relationship with Cai (Aaron Latterell) and her demanding work environment. She works for an intense mother, Joan (Brenda Scott Wlazlo) who is getting divorced from her slightly sympathetic husband, Jonathan (Scot West). Celia takes care of their intelligent child Walden (West) and gets along well with him. It is about sexual fantasy, dominance, and creating. This was a thought-provoking show with compelling performances.

What I deduced about Celia in this play is that she believes that sex and giving people pleasure is one of her arts. But she has this obstacle where she believes that her job is to be submissive, and her boyfriend reinforces that, making her feel like she doesn't have a choice. Her boyfriend judges her on their sex by how much she submits to him, just like people are judged on their art and told whether or not it is good based on the desires of the viewer. If you consider sex as an art form, it can neglect the needs and wants of the people involved. It makes sex a performance instead of a partnership. Art made only for an external audience, that doesn't take into account the artist's own point of view, isn't fully truthful. I find it interesting that there is a metaphor in this play that connect sex and art. It is not something I really thought of before.

The Narrator (Jalyn Greene) is not just the narrator, they are a character that may be Celia's inner voice. There is a section where the Narrator is repeating words that seem to be going through Celia's head. The words are babka and slut. She is working with language and these words seem to be haunting her. Babka is something she doesn't understand (because she misidentified the sweet bread) and slut is something she thinks about herself. It is two words about insecurities that she has: about not understanding things and about how she could be perceived. The babka and slut are two words that are very repeatable. They have a large impact because of the plosives and the meaning, the plosives are important because she seems to be an artist with words. It seems like the Narrator is a presence that switches between thinking Celia's actions are justifiable and not. The Narrator seems to be less present (or even absent) on stage when Celia is speaking her mind or standing up for herself. When she knows what she is saying or what she wants, she has less internal conflict. Having a narrator character that is a subconscious means you don't know what is just in her head and what is reality. I thought that was an interesting layer to add because it left sections to audience interpretation.

People who would like this show are people who like embodied brains, sexual discovery, and slutty babka. I think that this is a very original and compellingly-done show. I think it had a lot of great things to say.

Photos: Austin D. Oie

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