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Catholic University of America: Ward Recital Hall
Remaining Performances (tickets available here):
Saturday, July 11 at 8 p.m. Sunday, July 12 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 15 at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 16 at 8 p.m. Friday, July 17 at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 18 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday, July 19 at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Monday, July 20 at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 22 at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 23 at 8 p.m.
They say: Medea’s back, and she’s putting the pulse back in expulsion. With a hypnotic score of electronic music and help from a few feminist vanguards, she’s bringing a new perspective to the Greek “myth” and pop feminism to the masses.
Joshua’s take: Early in Girl Versus Corinth, our anti-heroine (Sarah Anne Sillers) describes her early life with hubby Jason as the “Greek dream”: two kids, a big house, and a manicured yard with “white picket columns — Corinthian, of course.” Doesn’t quite work, does it? It feels like a rough draft of a throwaway joke, though what a more polished version would accomplish I can’t quite say. So it is with this whole show.
Girl Versus Corinth clearly wants to graft fresh, millennial tissue onto its ancient textual forebears, but right from the start it wastes a lot of time summarizing the old story its audience should already know (otherwise, why did they come?). Medea is joined by her three muses, each of whom is also a feminist icon representing a different wave of the movement: Mary Wollstonecraft (Catherine Purcell), Betty Friedan (Sherry Berg), and Rebecca Walker (Tatiana Wechsler). The show uses these figures to both dramatize the themes that typically accompany feminist readings of Medea and summarize the women’s movement since the 18th century. This unwieldy task is accomplished through loosely choreographed slapstick, some passable one-liners, and more theater in-jokes than any show should permit.
And it goes on like this for a while, never quite building momentum as it scrambles from one number to the next, working its way through each of the three muses’ stories along with Medea’s. The show’s grrrl power attitude seems put-on and strained, and what energy it does generate feels more Spice Girls than Guerrilla Girls.
Girl Versus Corinth also has some serious technical problems, the worst of which is the consistently distorted vocals. While the vocal work is generally unremarkable, the uneven sound mix and regular static crackle were making the cast’s job twice as hard. I’m not entirely comfortable judging Danny Baird’s script simply because, whether sung or spoken, its words were often unintelligible. Granted, I saw the opening night, so some of these problems might be cleared up later, but such unpolished basics only made the show’s gimmicky use of multimedia seem all the less justifiable.
The show’s only standout number arrives in its final third. “Pandora,” led by Wechsler as Rebecca Walker, calls out pop stars who have declined to call themselves feminists, including Madonna, Lady Gaga, and I think Kelly Clarkson (again, audio problems). This number was also when I concluded that the show’s feminist agitprop is meant wholly in earnest; before I had wondered if the whole thing wasn’t tongue-in-cheek, treating the women’s movement as yet another batch of mythology ready for subversive remixing.
But no. Girl Versus Corinth really is driven by ideas, but all of them are half-baked: the good, the bad, and the borrowed. Despite all the manic energy that clearly lay behind its conception, this show is boring.
See it if: No Fringe experience is complete for you without at least one Medea adaptation. Skip it if: The show described above sounds vaguely like one you’ve already seen.
Side note: If you do decide to catch Girl Versus Corinth and you’re not intimately familiar with CUA’s campus, you may have some difficulty finding the Ward Recital Hall. The address in the Fringe program is incorrect. I suggest using this map.
Image courtesy of Monumental Theatre Company