Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Review of Broken Nose Theatre's Girl in the Red Corner

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Girl in the Red Corner. It was by Stephen Spotswood and it was directed by Elizabeth Laidlaw. Fight choreography was by John Tovar. It was about a woman named Halo (Elise Marie Davis) who had recently gotten out of a relationship and wanted to do something new for herself. She decides to take up mixed martial arts with a recovering addict, Gina (August N. Forman). While she explores this new interest, there are a lot of troubles in her family, like her teen niece's rebellion, her mother Terry's (Michelle Courvais) financial problems and drinking, and her sister Brinn (Kim Boler) and brother-in-law Warren's (Mark West) marriage. This is a well-performed, well-choreographed, well-directed, and well-written show. I have never seen anything like it before. It was thrilling and also thought-provoking. I loved it,

I enjoyed that the fights were not just to simulate violence in this show. They would illustrate internal battles. Whenever Halo is having issues within her family, it is shown as her beating up her family but not in a I-want-to kill-my-family kind of way. It was in a this-is-the-way-I-process-my-emotions kind of way. The climactic fight scene used this tactic by Halo starting to fight with one person, played by the same actor as her mother. And as it progressed, she faces other fighters, also played by the actors who played her family. She realized she had to fight her own family to resolve her own problems. It is an interesting way of taking the idea of family conflict and making it literal in a figurative setting. We can see her fighting her family, when in the reality of the show she is fighting with her MMA opponent and her understanding of her own limits. This is what makes this show different from other fighting shows. It is more focused on family and more about life than fighting, though it connects the two.

I thought it was interesting how this play seemed to be reminiscent of a person's everyday life. Scenes went in cycles: work-home-training, work-home-training. Her work is telemarketing for an internet provider, where she is harassed by people she calls. During one of these scenes Halo delivers a fantastically desperate monologue that was beautifully performed. Home--back with her indecisive, paint-shade-obsessed mother--is another load on her back each day. And training is where she can let all that go, even if it is challenging and her relationship with her trainer is at first quite tense. The cycle adds to the effect of Halo seeming like a real person, which in another wrestling show that I really like, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, is not so much focused on. That play is more about the drama and the fighting and the damage. That story is more heightened, mystical, and poetic, and this one was more down-to-earth and relatable. I do like both versions of the story, but I had never seen it done in this way before so that was exciting and interesting.

People who would like this show are people who like literal family conflicts, relatable wrestling, and paint-shade-obsessed mothers. I think this is a really well-done show with great actors. It added something new to the wrestling play genre and it was very enjoyable. I really liked it.

Photos: Austin D. Oie

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