How far is one willing to go to show some of the horrors of human vices in the hope of bringing about some improvement? Angry Sheila Callaghan has gone about as far as she can go with her new theatrical outing – That Pretty Pretty; or, The Rape Play which has just opened at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater where girls are behaving like boys behaving badly. Very badly. Will this enlighten those who act this way? Will they change their ways? I think not. But I hope so.
The acting by the cast of five in this burlesque of inhuman behavior is very good. Excellent in fact. The content, however, left me cold as a witch’s tit – the metaphor is apt, all things considered. How can anyone warm up to characters so vile? Dudes who act like idiots, trying to get into the pants of any and all women and radical feminist women who retaliate by doing much of the same with men – going as far as shooting them dead and then posing for pictures with the body to be used on a blog. That’s the point, I suppose. Or does she do herself a disservice by glorifying these characters?
Owen, a marvelously versatile Greg Keller is a would be screenwriter pitching his ideas to his best friend Rodney (The Rod- hunky, right on target Joseph Gomez) a soldier on leave from Iraq with one thing on his mind – rape! In a hotel room which is equally versatile thanks to designer Narelle Sissons, Owen plots as The Rod plods. Two ex-strippers are the ultra violent, almost comic book like heroines out for blood. As Agnes, Lisa Joyce brings to mind Kelly Clarkson gone haywire and as Valerie, Danielle Slavick, Vampira on speed.
A delightful and fit Annie McNamara has the honor of portraying exercise guru – the dignified and much abused (but she can take it on the chin) Ms. Jane Fonda who also appears on tape on the small computer screen in the hotel room.
All this is incorporated into a non linear, over the top, over indulgent story that includes hit fests, women wrestling in Jell-O (stay clear of the first row), a feather flying pillow fight, multiple rapes and killings, a very boring dinner sequence that could be pared way down, a grenade placed up a vagina and then exploded, and last but not least the peeing on cue on the bed sheets by both Agnes and The Rod. At different times of course.
Kip Fagan does his best to clarify as director but it’s a hard row to hoe. Jessica Pabst’s costumes help tremendously to define the various nuances of the characters. Nuances? I meant bold strokes. Except for the ending where a calmed down Owen is being interviewed after the success of his violent, female debasing (something his mother could be proud of) cinematic masterpiece. Owen is fielding questions that we do not hear from an imaginary audience while we listen to his very funny responses which enable us to understand what the questions are. It’s a beautiful piece of writing, acting and direction. The final question leaves Owen wordless and uncomfortable and uneasy and quite emotional. Perhaps that’s what That Pretty Pretty; or The Rape Play is intended to do to its audiences. You’ll have to decide for yourself.