Mon Jan 12 2009
Photograph: Rimini Protokoll
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Just as most of us are unpacking that last stubborn suitcase from our holiday travels, Clove Galilee and Jenny Rogers send us back down the runway. Their freewheeling adaptation of Maria Irene Fornes’s Fefu and Her Friends (1977) takes place on an airplane—or at least a startlingly complete approximation of one. Welcoming us with moist towelettes, seven cheery stewardesses (these spike-heeled babes haven’t had their feminist ire raised yet) usher us into a bright and clever production that taxis toward excellence—even if it never completely takes off.
Fornes’s original roamed through an upper-crust tea, eavesdropping on seemingly genteel women who asked one another, “Do you think about genitals all the time?” Fornes implied a viciousness among ladies that re-created (and sometimes trumped) the woman-hating ways of guys. Transporting the absurdist action to a jumbo liner from the early ’70s, Galilee and Rogers show us how surreptitiously awful our pre-Steinem days were—the women snatch conversations in cramped galleys or hiss them across passengers while offering pillows and warm nuts. It also offers countless possibilities for silliness, a boon for this delightful ensemble.
What the piece can’t manage is Fornes’s free-floating dread, despite a singing Jesus-cum-lifeguard figure who drifts about menacingly in coach. Looking for additional zing, Rogers and Galilee splice in material: We hear some angry Valerie Solanas, and the hilarious Kristen Rozanski mews off-color paeans to the phallic Boeing. But for a piece that means to recheck the heavier bits of feminism’s baggage, Wickets winds up being a disarmingly sweet flight of fancy.