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BWW Review: MISSIONARY POSITION - A Delightful Period Romp

Glass Half Full Theatre's original production of MISSIONARY POSITION: PLEASURE JOURNEYS FOR THE INTREPID LADY EXPLORER playing at Salvage Vanguard Theatre is a pure pleasure to experience on many levels.With an ensemble cast of three, and running at 40 minutes, not a moment is wasted in keeping the audience entertained. Lady Hortense (Jay Byrd) welcomes patrons in the lobby, engaging everyone in amusing conversation and then takes the lead, ushering everyone into the theatre. On stage we find our intrepid lady explorers posed in large frames, the effect is charming. The extremely witty Lady Hortense welcomes the audience to "The Ladies Symposium Where Ladies Share Knowledge With Ladies" and introduces the guest speakers.
Eleanor Dangerbottom (Cami Alys) and Amelia Weatherbeaten (Caroline Reck) are explorers in the Victorian tradition of female adventurers who blazed paths for the betterment of their sex. The sponsor of their groundbreaking trek is none other than the world's first commercially available disposable sanitary napkin supplier Hartmann's. While feminine hygiene products aren't usually comic fodder, this production makes the absolute most of the inside jokes and includes the men in the audience as honorary 'ladies'. "Hartmann's Hygienic Towelettes" were indeed available in the 1890's and represented a revolution in women's freedom. I won't go into the history of menstrual hygiene here, but suffice it to say it was disgusting , isolating and downright barbaric by today's standards. Our heroines are here to change all of that, but for a censored telegram. The symposium takes an hilarious turn but our heroines take it all in stride leaving an absolutely darling surprise to end the show.

The ensemble cast work perfectly together, their timing and physical comedy couldn't have been more in tune. Reck and Alys are an energetic team working in harmony and are a delight to watch. The script by Caroline Reck is as whimsical as it is passionate and ingenious. While reminiscent of Eric Overmyer's ON THE VERGE, the play makes its own way, breaks new ground and opens up new discussions. If there is a single flaw to the show, it's that the audience longs for more from Lady Hortense, but it's merely a wish to spend more time with these captivating characters. Costumer Pam Friday accents both the Victorian era while bowing to the practical nature of a physical comedy with panache. Sadie Longenkamps' lighting design is well done and uses a simple fan to supply a brilliant effect.

MISSIONARY POSITION: PLEASURE JOURNEYS FOR THE INTREPID LADY EXPLORER written and directed by Caroline Reck deftly handles the important issues of women's rights and body autonomy with intelligence, wit and quite a few belly laughs. I can think of few more rewarding evenings at the theatre.

THE MISSIONARY POSITION: PLEASURE JOURNEYS FOR THE INTREPID LADY EXPLORER produced by Glass Half Full Theatre at Salvage Vanguard Theatre, 2803 Manor Road, Austin. Performances run thru September 26, Thursday - Saturday at 8:00 PM.
Running time: 40 minutes.

Tickets: Sliding scale - $10 - $20 at www.GlassHalfFullTheatre.com


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From This Author Lynn Beaver