Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Self Defense"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark


"Self Defense
or
death of some salesmen"

by Carson Kreitzer
Directed by Vanessa Gilbert

Set Design by Monica Shinn
Lightiing Design by Deb Sullivan
Costume Design by Susan Reid
Sound Design by Peter Hurowitz
Video by Tom Sgouros
Properties Mistress Michelle Eaton
Production Stage Manager Christina Lowe
Stage Manager/ Production Manager Shelia McManus

Jolene Palmer..........................................Lynne McCollough
Lu/Annie Ames....................................Casey Seymour Kim
Chastity/Coroner 3/Jean/Reporter................Anushka Carter
Daytona/Coroner 2/Cassandra Chase...........Marilyn Dubois
LeeAnn/Pandora/Coroner..............................Wendy Overly
Captain/Marty/Judge........................................Paul Buxton
Bucket/Shrink 1..............................................Kerry Callery
Drums/Prosecutor/Flaky Lawyer/Shrink 2.....Richard Noble

Carson Kreitzer's searing script is not so much a docu-drama as a surprisingly convincing argument illustrated by a vividly alive concatenation of twenty-two flawed human beings. At their center is an uppity broad, in every brawling, bawdy, street-smart bottom-line connotation of that phrase. Jolene Palmer (Lynne McCollough) is a lesbian, supporting her lover and herself by hustling blow-jobs on the streets of Florida. She's a needy, motherly, protective battler accused of pumping nine bullets into an apparently respectable travelling salesman she says would have killed her if she didn't get him first. It was she says, flatly refusing to let her defense team claim any kind of extenuating mental state, nothing more than "Self Defense".

And her own testimony about her own rape, foul-mouthed and graphic though it is, might have gotten her acquitted --- except that he was the seventh guy in a row she'd blown away.

From the outset Lynne McCollough as Jolene is solidly, outspokenly, uncompromisingly independent. Except that she is in the bright orange jump-suit of a prisoner railing at the injustices of her captors, it might take a while for an audience to comprehend what her predicament is --- were it not for tattling bastards like me crimping her style. Jolene is Not a sympathetic character ... except perhaps as her story unfolds. Apparently a battered child whose own baby was snatched from her, probably at birth, when she was fourteen, she makes no excuses whatever for her life or her livelihood. She's a slut, a street-whore, an unashamed lesbian and a confessed serial murderess. And yet....

And that is the beauty of this abrasive play. Gleamingly apparent underneath the gutter language and the ragings at authorities there is a glimmer of naked honesty that compels interest, that insists the audience look deeper and deeper into her story, into her very soul. Slowly, subtly, the dimensions of her life and of her crimes become apparent, and yet the simple fact that she refuses to lie commands attention. And gradually, with several often hilarious asides, even one of the detectives who nailed her begins, grudgingly, to take what she says seriously.

The story is told in relentlessly swift bits of confrontation, haphazardly o'erleaping time, with the other seven cast-members whipping in and out of costumes and twenty-two characters in the hour and forty minutes (sans intermission) it takes to tell this increasingly engrossing story. It is noteworthy because she's billed as the first female serial killer to specialize in men, but the playwright is after bigger game than that: when one of the detectives who busted her starts looking deeper, he notices that all her victims were sleazy bastards, many with multiple arrests for assault or rape and --- and this is the keystone of the plays deftly articulated argument --- murders of prostitutes in the year Jolene did her deeds dropped from seven last year to four. ("You mean I may have saved as many lives as I took?" she guffaws.)

The play is not a tract. Still, its message about whose murders get noticed in our society is inescapable. It is told with vigor, intensity, raw honesty and humor, but without either preaching or compromise. The cast, every one of them, works with chameleon-like swiftness, the accompanying video bits add but never impose, and on the Perishable's weirdly shaped, narrow, intimate stage the show is flawlessly directed.
And I have only scratched the surface of its excellence.

Love,
===Anon.


"Self Defense, or the death of some salesmen" (3 November - 1 December)
PERISHABLE THEATRE
95 Empire Street, PROVIDENCE, RI
1 (401) 331-2695


THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |