Amy Eller Lewis
The 9th Annual Women's Playwriting Festival at Perishable Theatre runs the gamut with three incredibly strong plays, whose themes range from loss to war to joining the circus. The Frangipani Door by Nehassaiu DeGannes, Mothergun by Christine Evans and ExtraOrdinaire by Janet Kenney light up the stage with equal parts poignancy, humor and dark intensity.
Nehassaiu DeGannes' The Frangipani Door concerns the tension between identity and exile. DeGannes uses finely wrought language, a Greek-style Chorus, Shakespeare and Egyptian mythology to construct the story of Rachel, who emigrates from Trinidad to Canada after her mother's death. She is rootless, floating, "a fish out of water", her father says. DeGannes rejects the stereotypes so often associated with this kind of story in favor of three-dimensional characters with emotion
The "frangipani door" of the play, is an actual door Rachel&'s father has painted pink --- For the "delicate hot-pink flowers" of their native Trinidad. It is a reminder of how she is set apart from the other Canadians but also of belonging to Something Else. It is the door Rachel must open and go through in order to find the peace and the roots she's been looking for.
The tone of the festival now changes with Christine Evans' stark and disturbing Mothergun. Set in a refugee camp "between Europe and Hell", Evans composes a tale of our relationship to war and language, and also our unquenchable need for sweetness even in the most extreme circumstances. None of the characters in Mothergun can understand each other's language, except for the Peacekeeping Officer who presides over them. He translates and mistranslates to serve his own purposes
The performances in Mothergun are some of the strongest ensemble acting I've seen in a while. Especially notable is young Dan Goldrick who plays the nearly mad boy-soldier, "suckled on grenades". His mother is truly Mothergun. His energy and intensity bring light to a difficult character.
Finally the Festival brings us Janet Kenney's delightful surprise ExtraOrdinaire. Joey and Martha have been married for over thirty years, when Joey suddenly decides that they are going to throw it all away and join the circus. But he must convince Martha, his "muse" and solid dependable wife that it is time for a change. Do they choose an Ordinary Life or an ExtraOrdinary one? Kenney deftly navigates questions about the nature of "ordinary" and "extraordinary"
This year's plays take us on a wild emotional ride, revealing the tapestry of the human condition. These are all familiar themes and situations with fresh and original re-examinations by stellar playwrights. Don't miss this years Women's Playwriting Festival; it's the best one yet.
The 9th Annual Women's Playwriting Festival runs through June 17th at Perishable Theatre, 95 Empire Street, Providence, RI. Tickets are $10 for "Early Bird Thursdays" at 7PM; All other shows are $16/$13 Seniors/Students/People with Disabilities. For more information contact the theatre's Box Office at 401-331-2695 x 101 or visit the show's website at www.aboutWPF.com.