Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review of Big Love at Strawdog Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Big Love by Charles L. Mee, directed by Matt Hawkins. It was about these 50 brides who were running away from their grooms because they didn't want to marry them. The grooms really wanted to marry them; they said they were going to marry them whether they liked it or not, which is a totally terrible thing. There were not actually 106 people in the show; there are 30 people. I am telling you this so you don't think when you go into the theater that you have to pull up your feet if you are sitting in the front row to let 106 people go on stage. It is about love, hate, trust and what you feel about boys and girls.

There was this scene where all the brides came in singing “You Don’t Own Me” because that is kind of what this entire play is about. The song is about a girl who is on a date or is going to get married and she is telling her husband or boyfriend, “I don’t need you to do everything for me. I can take care of myself. I don’t belong to you anymore.” It is kind of like she is breaking up with him, but it is also like she is just angry at him. That’s their entrance. They are marching in. Then they take off their wedding dresses; that is supposed to show, “We don’t want these wedding dresses. We want to be free!” When Piero (John Henry Roberts) came in, there were just a bunch of ladies in undergarments with spaghetti straps and he was like, "I'm seeing a bunch of ladies in undergarments right outside on my porch." And he was kind of like looking at them like, “Why don’t you have any clothes on?” I thought that was really funny because he had a look of disbelief.

The first time you meet the grooms, they come in with these sunglasses and they are like these rockers. And it is really funny because all of them take off their sunglasses in order, like down this zigzag. It told me some stuff about the grooms; like some of the grooms were serious, some of the grooms were nice, and some of the grooms were funny. Then, Oed (Kyle Gibson), instead of taking off his sunglasses, they are one of the flip-up sunglasses and he flips them up. I thought that was really funny because all the grooms were looking at him like, “What are you doing?” That told you that Oed was a really funny character and that he would be like the comic savior.

There was a scene where the brides say what kind of man they want. Thyona (Michaela Petro), her speech about what kind of man she wanted was completely different. She didn’t even want a man at all because she was a kind of a cranky character. She might actually want some kind of man, but not Constantine (Shane Kenyon) because he is a jerk. I really liked the part where Olympia said "I like men who bring me flowers!" and then one of the grooms (Chris Acevedo) said, "I brought you this flower." I thought that was really funny because he just happens to have a flower in his pocket! Lydia (Stacy Stoltz) wanted to be treated kindly, not just as a wife but as a friend. They wanted you to know what each of the brides wanted in a husband. They are maybe not going to get what they want in a husband if they are just told, “Hey, marry this guy!”

 There was a scene where three of the grooms--Constantine, Nikos (John Ferrick), and Oed--were running and the two people who weren’t telling their story were trying to push the other one down. This scene is scary because there was a lot of the g.d. word. It was because of the way they were saying it and also just that they were saying it; they were yelling it and down on their knees and taking off their coats and ties. This scene is complicated; even though it seems like it is just 3 people running and yelling, it is also all of them saying all their feelings and desires. I thought it was cool that they tried to push Constantine down each time. That showed you that Constantine was really determined to get these wives. Constantine was talking about how sometimes people tell you to be polite and have manners and sometimes people tell you go and sign up for the war. It is kind of the same with women. Sometimes people tell you, "Be ladylike, be a princess, be as nice as possible." And sometimes they tell you you should fight back and not run away and face your fears. And I am not just making this up. This is actually some of my own experience.

There are important things in this play, but also some things that are downright hilarious—like this paragraph is all about. I have four hilarious things that I wanted to mention. One, Giuliano (Paul Fagen) dressed up as a lady. He came out in this black dress with this fake black hairdo, and he had a hairclip and just looked hilarious. It was so funny because he was just dressed up like a lady and he has really strong arms and stuff like that so he didn’t look just like a lady. That would be a very muscular-looking lady! And two is how Giuliano had a collection of Barbies and Kens.  It's funny because he is a grown man and he tells everybody and they are all like "Wo-o-o-w." Three is when Giuliano and Bella (Cheryl Roy) were singing "Call Me Maybe" and "I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You."  I thought that was funny because they just broke into two different songs from two different times. Four is how Eleanor (Anita Deely) and Leo (Carmine Grisolia) were always kissing each other in the middle of sentences.

People who would like this show are people who like being free, being in love, and flip-up sunglasses.  People should go and see this show because it is funny but also very serious.  It has a great set (by Mike Mroch) that is pretty and deadly. The costumes (by Brittany Dee Bodley) are amazing.  The wedding dresses are pretty when you first see them and then they start to get creepy; they reminded me of ghosts  The acting is fantastic.  It made me think that I am not going to let anyone make me marry anyone.  Period.

Photos: Chris Ocken

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