Friday, January 20, 2017

Review of The Cuckoo's Theater Project's Women

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Women. It was by Chiara Atik and it was directed by Melissa Golden. It was about the women from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women but addressing all of the issues that you kept thinking about during the entire book, like why Jo marries a guy that is not cool enough for her, why Amy is such a jerk to Beth when Beth is dying, and why the characters have such a hard time communicating with each other. I'm a big fan of Little Women and I was really excited to see this. Jo was one of my role models. I don't think Little Women is a flawless book, but it is a good book, and it is a very feminist book for the time it was written in because it looked at real women's lives. A few years ago I saw a show called Lil' Women: A Rap Musical and it was a hip hop version of the novel. Of course it was not one hundred percent accurate to the book, but it wasn't making fun of it all the time. It was able to point out some of the flaws in the book but in an affectionate way. That was a perfect rendition of Little Women for me. Women also has some legitimate and funny criticisms, but sometimes it was a little bit harsher than I would like. It didn't always balance criticism with making you care about the characters.

Everyone seemed to be insanely mean to Beth (Jillian Leff) in this version. Amy (Francesca Atian) wouldn't even go in the same room with Beth, which doesn't happen in the book. Everyone makes Amy stay out because they don't want her to be sick. If Amy makes the choice it makes her seem like a jerk. Something that was kind of funny but also kind of sad was how Beth kept coughing the whole time. And Amy was like, "You have to keep the coughing to a minimum. It's at a six right now, and we need it to be at a three." I can see why that is funny, but you can also see why it is kind of sad. It makes you feel like Amy doesn't like her family. Sometimes you think that about Amy in the book, but this exaggeration makes her seem like a pretty awful person, not just someone who has little hiccups in their good behavior. The sisters seem a lot like mean girls, like Regina George. I think that is a funny idea to have all these well-meaning characters do such non-well-meaning things. But it does make you care about the characters less.

Meg (Emily Lindberg) seemed like a very angry person. She never really gets what she wants, even though she thinks all she needs to be happy in life is to get a husband. In this play Meg is kind of there to represent how weird it is that in the original book she is happy with a dull husband and a bunch of kids, which doesn't seem a lot like Meg. In the play, it seems like she gets a lot angrier as she is writing a letter to Jo (Aziza Macklin) because she knows how much fun Jo is having in New York and she wishes she was there instead of taking the first opportunity that she gets to be married. In Little Women she is a sweet and perfect second mother to everyone. Then to see her in such a state of anger and overreaction in the play is funny. But then you do feel sorry for her husband Mr. Brooks (Nick Glatter) who has to take all of it.

I really liked the last scene. I thought that it was very funny because it brought up the problem that the end of the book has; it seems like Alcott just wraps up the book really quickly by basically saying: Jo's getting married, everybody will be married, the end. There was one line in the play where Jo says to Professor Bhaer (Rocco Renda) "We will have a sexless--but not loveless--marriage." And then he said "To wrap this up quickly and efficiently: Yes!" It is so great because that is the first time where they bring up a problem with the book that I didn't feel was over exaggerated, and I found it hilarious. It shows you that Jo is a very independent person and doesn't need a man to be happy. She still gets to be who she wants to be even though the book says she has to get married to a man. Jo, in the book, is not a flawless character, but she is still a lovable character because she is relatable. In the play, the actress did such a great job portraying Jo in a way that made her seem like an actual person that you can care about. In the book, I feel like they try to mend her. They don't do that in the play. Everyone seems to keep their flaws, and Jo still gets to be who she wants to be, which I wish they had actually done in the book. I think that it is great to have flawed characters, even at the end, because no one becomes perfect over time.

People who would like this show are people who like angry Megs, nineteenth-century mean girls, and sexless--but not loveless--marriages. I really loved the idea of this show and I thought it had some great moments.

Photos: Candice Lee Connor

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