BWW Reviews: Fringe - THE SECRETARIES, Stereotypists

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The cast of The SecretariesSecretaries. Often overlooked, but vital to the functioning of an office. In this case the office is that of Cooney Lumber in Big Bone, Oregon, as TOSOS (The Other Side Of Silence) revives The Five Lesbian Brothers' 1993 satire The Secretaries, about a murderous cult of women working at a lumber mill. Perky Patty Johnson (Elizabeth Whitney) is the new girl in town, and meets her new co-workers: beauty-obsessed Ashley Elizabeth Fratangello (Karen Stanion), sassy lesbian Dawn Midnight (Virginia Beata), kindly and overweight Peaches Martin (Elizabeth A. Bell), and their overseer the glamorous Susan Curtis (Jamie Heinlein). They're all obsessed with SlimFast shakes, are desperate to please their demanding boss Mr. Kembunksher, and have a terrible murderous secret (which is spelled out in the prologue): every month they murder one of the lumberjacks with a chainsaw and make it look like an accident. Patty immediately begins winning kudos, ousting Ashley as employee of the month, charming Susan in a variety of ways, and she soon gets accepted into the secretaries' frightening clique. But when she begins dating lumberjack Buzz (Beata, in a dual role), his number comes up as the next victim. Patty must make a serious decision as the play comes to its bloody conclusion.

The play is very funny at times, with some of the most talented comic actresses around (especially Stanion and Heinlein, though each of the women get their moments), but somehow it seems a bit lifeless, perhaps due to very long pauses between scenes, or perhaps the show has simply lost a bit of its bite and shock value in the last 17 vivid years.
Mark Finley directs the proceedings with a practiced hand. The Costume Design by Ellen Reilly should get a special note, for her exceptionally girly and color-coordinated outfits.

The Secretaries
By the Five Lesbian Brothers

Produced by TOSOS (The Other Side Of Silence)

Part of the New York International Fringe Festival

Lucille Lortel Theater, 121 Christopher Street
Remaining performances: Tuesday, August 24th @ 7:15pm, Thursday, August 26th @ 2:15pm, and Sunday, August 29th @ Noon

Photo: Elizabeth A. Bell, Elizabeth Whitney, Virginia Beata, Jamie Heinlein, Karen Stanion

 

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Duncan Pflaster Duncan Pflaster is an award-winning playwright whose plays have been produced all over. He also has been known to direct, write music, play the ukulele, and (if his arm is twisted) act. He won second place in the 2009 Stage and Cinema's New York City Theater Review Contest. www.duncanpflaster.com