BWW Reviews: THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES at ACT
ACT Theatre is currently presenting the Seattle premiere of Joanna Murray-Smith's hilarious new play, "The Female of the Species". And while the show loses its way a bit in its message, it still remains a wonderfully funny farce with a superb ensemble.
Loosely based on the incident where author Germaine Greer was held hostage in her home, the story centers on Margot Mason (Suzy Hunt), a famous feminist author whose latest book is not coming as easily as the others. Enter Molly Rivers (Renata Friedman), a college student obsessed with Mason and convinced that her teachings are responsible for all her woes. So naturally she pulls a gun on her and demands an apology. Add into the mix Margot's disillusioned daughter Tess and her overly nice husband Bryan (Morgan Rowe and Paul Morgan Stetler), an angry know it all cabbie Frank (Tim Hyland) and Margot's publisher Theo (Mark Chamberlin); none of whom seem all that interested in helping Margot out of this situation. And while the show is, at its core, a typical face, it's somewhat atypical in that it seems to want to have something to say. Most farces are just a situation spun out of control with not much of a message. "The Female of the Species" on the other hand has a lot it wants to say, unfortunately by the end it tends to get lost in its own rhetoric and ends up dropping its own message. But The Situation is still out of control and results in quite a few laughs.
The cast shines as a marvelously tight ensemble, each giving over focus for their respective moments to shine but still remaining completely together. Hunt is delicious as the delightfully acerbic Margot. She commands the stage from the get go and never once shows any signs of letting go of that command (even though she's stuck in one small area for most of the show). Morgan practically stopped the show with her side-splitting breakdown. Stetler's riotously honest portrayal of the bumbling husband was a joy. Friedman's damaged yet clinging to sanity Molly was nothing short of sublime. One moment touching and the next manic and all the while filled with laughs. And Hyland and Chamberlin, while not having a lot of stage time, manage to bring their own moments of hysterical chaos to the show with glee.
With great direction from Allison Narver and a stunningly well thought out and gorgeous set from Robert A. Dahlstrom, "The Female of the Species" is an excellent piece of theater and a great night out. And while the abandonment of the meaning may be a little frustrating, the show works quite well as a lovely and clever farce. So much fun it should be illegal. Oh wait, it is ... but don't worry, no one will call the police.
"The Female of the Species" plays at Seattle's ACT through July 18th. For more information or tickets contact the ACT box office at 206-292-7676 or visit them online at www.acttheatre.org.
Photo Credit: Chris Bennion