Wed Jun 25 2008
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
We may silence our cell phones at the door, but we can’t leave our ultramediated, ADD-addled age behind when we enter Split Britches’ new ramble through the detritus of postmillennial Americana. Instead, this veteran duo—Peggy Shaw, a butch cad in a baggy suit, and Lois Weaver, a blowsy femme in a slip and a wig—tap-dances with a kind of breezy rue across the fault lines between reality and representation, waste and nostalgia, the personal and the public.
Indeed, the most striking takeaway from Miss America may be how seamlessly our current mediascape meshes with the by-now well-worn postmodern aesthetic—or, perhaps more charitably, how well Split Britches’ 1980s-vintage approach anticipated the age of Twitter and Facebook.
“If we continue to avoid talking about relationships, all we’ll have left is YouTube,” blurts Weaver to Shaw, and it’s an apt attribution as much as an authentic plaint, since the video-sharing site is among the show’s sources. We get a solemn recitation of Miss Teen South Carolina’s infamous answer to a geography question (“I believe that our education, like such as in South Africa and…uh…the Iraq”) and an eerily dispassionate rendering of Jeremiah Wright’s sermon “footnote” (“America’s chickens are coming home to roost”).
Ultimately these are wan ironies, and the show’s tone ends up almost apologetically unresolved. (Shaw pleads near the end: “We’re having a hard time making a comedy of America.”) Still, the production has the unmistakable grace and proportion of a living installation crafted by simpatico performance artists who know their way around the fourth wall.