There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Mister Mayhem Studios bills its latest production, And She Was, as a story about women “you won’t find on Lifetime.” And that’s certainly true—but those blessed with premium cable service can find similar characters a few channels over. You’ve got a blonde, a redhead, a brunette; one bitchy, one innocent, one relatively normal despite the tube tops she wears and the company she keeps. They meet in a cafe and talk about—key words here—sex and life in the city. Ho-hum. And She Was doesn’t care much for setup, beginning with a disembodied DJ talking about her dead brother, Calvin (Joe Killiany), who’s present in the next scene—is this heaven? No, wait, he’s a ghost. But why is he serving drinks and interacting with certain characters later on? And here goes the DJ again: Oh, OK, it’s Vanessa (Kimberly Klinger), aforementioned normal. And she at least has a job—you never learn how catty Sera (Angelle Bonnecarrere) and dippy Antonella (Meredith Kiffer) manage to pay for their flashy heels. There are also the requisite gay waiter (Chris Carroll) and a free-your-mind punk rocker (James Rogers III) thrown in for pseudo-comic relief and life-altering relationship, respectively, adding to the menagerie of urban cutouts. Supposedly character-driven, this play doesn’t have much of a plot: Dates with people who are “different” allegedly change Vanessa’s and Antonella’s perspectives, and Vanessa’s dead brother (how he died is never mentioned) gets off on watching people undetected. As the press release promises, And She Was maintains a minimalist approach to setting (a table and some stools), but unless Calista Flockhart jokes are newly considered envelope-pushing, I take issue with Mayhem’s claim that writer-director Kylos Brannon is “experimenting with language.” These characters are loudmouthed and self-absorbed, smug in their 20-something wisdom and—a worse sin at 10 o’clock on a weekend night—simply not funny. It’s not the actors’ fault that the play falters, however. In fact, Fatima Quander as an in-your-face lesbian and Bonnecarrere as the me-me-me socialite embody their roles well enough to piss you off with their familiarity. —Tricia Olszewski