Review: In the Pony Palace/Football
Writer-director Tina Satter coaches an all-girl gridiron comedy.
Mon Feb 14 2011
Photograph: Hunter Canning
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
On its surface, Tina Satter's all-girl gridiron comedy In the Pony Palace/Football is a pom-pom for theater types: It rallies your spirits, sparkles winningly under lights and, intellectually speaking, doesn't require heavy lifting. Indeed, this brief sports lampoon feels like one of the writer-director's lighter efforts— but seen as a part of an oeuvre, Satter's bouncy, glitter-filled work isn't just low-budget gloss and pop-culture savvy. In works like this and the past summer's Nurses of New England, Satter innovates linguistically (using jargon spliced with teen-speak diffidence) while pursuing a fascinating project: the seizure of a camp aesthetic owned theatrically (until now) by men. Satter may not be the first woman to stake a claim to camp—Pony Palace's live-marching-band-assisted soundtrack quotes Lady Gaga for a reason—but Satter's Half Straddle company is launching a particularly coordinated goal-line drive to a new feminist form.
At the Pony Palace, the football team (QB Jess Barbagallo, wide receiver Erin Markey) and the cheerleading squad (Emily Davis and Eliza Bent) hit the field. They're justly proud of their many successes (Emily: "I kind of know slash invented 'the zone'?"), but the QB's love troubles may ruin their perfect record. In just over an hour, the plot barely advances past the 30-yard line, but there's still enough time for sporty dance breaks and Kourtney Rutherford, muffled in a giant owl-mascot head, to stumble adorably thither and yon. Satter's usual suspects—composer Chris Giarmo among them—mingle polish with amateurish insouciance; they are joined by Moe Angelos (of the Five Lesbian Brothers), who offers her own gruff imprimatur. The cheering, though, is left to the audience. (Foam fingers are helpfully provided.)
The Bushwick Starr (see the Off-Off List). Written and directed by Tina Satter. With ensemble cast. 1hr 10mins. No intermission.