Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

GRRL Parts Return to UMBC

This is not so much a review as a tip of the hat to a show that will almost certainly be gone by the time you read this: University of Maryland Baltimore County’s GRRL Parts 2011: New Plays for Actresses, in its sixth annual incarnation (also reviewed, mostly favorably, in this space last year).  The ground rules each year: three short one-act plays in which the parts for college-age actresses predominate, with female antagonists and female protagonists.  This year there were two new commissions and one existing BBC radio play staged for the first time.  The young performers, intelligently directed by Eve Muson, did a fine job.

The plays were: Snip, by Karen Hartman, about making tough but perhaps inevitable choices as one grows, snipping off pieces of one’s character in the process, in the hope but not the promise that the lives shaped thereby are sustainable and fruitful; What Is The Custom Of Your Grief?, by Timberlake Wertenbaker, about a friendship forged in the pain of modern warfare and embodied in modern social media; and Runaways, by Ellen McLaughlin, simultaneous sketches of women throughout history driven to run away from intolerable situations.

All were worthwhile.  I was drawn literally to the edge of my seat, however, by the Wertenbaker play.  Zarghona, a young Pakistani woman (Brandi Sheppard), friends Emily, a young British woman (Erin Hanratty), on Facebook, because each has just lost a brother.  It gives little away to reveal that the brothers prove to have died on opposite sides of the same firefight in Afghanistan.  Neither of their societies, it also emerges, is particularly good at allowing sisters to grieve.  Apart from the manner of the fadeout, there was not a false or needlessly melodramatic note in the whole experience.

GRRL Parts is only part of the cutting edge nature of the UMBC theater program.  Another example, reviewed here a few months back, was the production of Lynn Nottage’s Las Meninas, which I’m advised has been invited to be performed next month at the Kennedy Center, one of four productions so honored.

My hat is tipped.

GRRL Parts 2011,  at UMBC Theatre, University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, through March 6.  Tickets $10, $5 for students and seniors.  410 455-2917. . Sexual situations, explicit language.

VANYA, SONIA, MASHA & SPIKE Opens April 14th At Spotlighters Photo
Spotlighters Theatre presents Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike - three crazy siblings and one hot mess, by Christopher Durang and directed by Erin Klarner. Running April 14 - April 30, 2023

CRISIS MODE: LIVING PILIPINO IN AMERICA At Strand In Baltimore Resonates With Immigrants,  Photo
CRISIS MODE: LIVING PILIPINO IN AMERICA is a revelation as well as a personal and cultural history. Speaking for, and to, people 'other-ed' for cultural reasons, or with dualism of identities, it also resonates with anyone who has basic compassion. Heartbreaking, interactive and funny, the performance immerses one in memoir as it's being written.

Shriver Hall Concert Series Presents Polish Pianist Piotr Anderszewski Photo
In the continuation of its 2022-23 season, Baltimore's premier presenter of chamber music ensembles and solo recitalists, Shriver Hall Concert Series (SHCS), presents the Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski on Sunday, April 23, 2023 at 5:30pm at Shriver Hall.

First Lady Dawn Moore And Robyn Murphy To Co-Chair Baltimore Center Stages 2023 Gala Photo
Baltimore Center Stage has announced that Maryland's First Lady, Dawn Moore, will join JRM Consultancy's Robyn Murphy to co-chair the 2023 Baltimore Center Stage Gala, which takes place on June 3 starting at 7PM.

From This Author - Jack L. B. Gohn

Review: THE SOUND INSIDE Thrills and Bemuses at Everyman TheatreReview: THE SOUND INSIDE Thrills and Bemuses at Everyman Theatre
March 12, 2023

The Sound Inside, by Adam Rapp, now gracing the boards at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre, is one of those all-too-rare plays that just bowls you over, even if, afterwards, you’re not quite sure where you’ve been during its bemusing 90 minutes.

Review: FPCT's DEAD MAN'S CELL PHONE Only Rings SoftlyReview: FPCT's DEAD MAN'S CELL PHONE Only Rings Softly
February 21, 2023

The play doesn’t do either superficiality or depth well. And so a decent production like this (which Fells Point Corner Theatre provided) can still only go so far with it.

Review: Strange But Relatable JUMP at Everyman TheatreReview: Strange But Relatable JUMP at Everyman Theatre
January 30, 2023

Families, sisterly conflicts, alienation from parents, suicidal tendencies, dissociation, nostalgia for childhood mingled with mature reevaluation of it: all these themes and tropes are universal. And audiences of all backgrounds should find this show about them quite relatable, not to mention intriguing.

Review: RIDE THE CYCLONE At Arena StageReview: RIDE THE CYCLONE At Arena Stage
January 23, 2023

Go See It! Join the enthralled cult! It’s for anyone who was ever a theater or choir kid. It’s for anyone who ever had a sexuality of any flavor whatsoever, or just even an inner life. It’s for the frustrated amateur metaphysician in each of us. And it is certainly for the amateur detective in each of us; the creators, Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell, have sprinkled clues and non sequiturs everywhere for us to ponder.

Incredible Songs and Ingenious Book Propel Audience Bliss With JAGGED LITTLE PILL at HippodromeIncredible Songs and Ingenious Book Propel Audience Bliss With JAGGED LITTLE PILL at Hippodrome
December 15, 2022

We do get a sort of happy ending, but not with a gratifying round of absolution for everyone. In the complicated interplay of transgression and victimization, and in the face of the realities of life in a patriarchal and heterosexist society, almost everyone ends up wishing they’d deserved and received greater absolution. There reemerges what Morissette calls “common ground,” but everyone remains a work in progress. And it is still enough to send the audience out with eyes shining. It’s earned.