Frank and I saw this play at the Fringe Festival on 8/27.  It was at 64E4, a miniscule theater on the Lower East Side, maybe about 50 seats.  Frank said it was an impressive theater for its size, but all I could see was that it could all fit in my living room.  It was a two-woman play, written by Richard Vetere and starring Maja Wampuszyc and Jenny Ashman.  We went because Frank knows Wampuszyc - - she’s a Bikram yoga instructor, and we had seen her in *pool (no water)* last fall.

 

The play opens with a short scene for the two women.  It’s unclear whether they’re lovers or former lovers, but in any case the Ashman character has gotten married and had a daughter.  She’s returned to Wampuszyc and they’ve formed a suicide pact.  As one does.  Ashman takes her pills, falls asleep, eventually dies, but Wampuszyc loses her nerve and backs out at the last second.

 

The second scene takes place about ten years later, Ashman now playing her previous character’s adult daughter.  The rest of the play follows the multi-layered relationship between her and Wampuszyc.  It strains credulity more than a bit: we’re supposed to believe that Wampuszyc and the first character played by Ashman (the mother) are both Pulitzer Prize-winning poets?  Sure.  The play wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been.  It had more than a bit of *The Maids*, with the sexually charged relationship between the two women and the power dynamics therein, and though it aimed for the heightened language of Genet, it missed the mark by a mile.  It was just overripe, it wasn’t transcendent.

 

Wampuszyc was the best thing in the show, by far.  She was better than the material, a prime example of silk purse/sow’s ear.  She nailed the tone and showed tremendous strength in her performance, I would love to see her in something else.  Ashman was less satisfying - - she didn’t project, either her voice or her characterization.  I think she’d be better served on television.  Let’s face it, if you can’t project in a space the size of my living room, you need to rethink a career in the theater.

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