Wednesday, January 21, 2009



Created by Jenny Rogers and Clove Galilee (adapted in part from Maria Irene Fornes' Fefu and Her Friends. 3LD Art & Technology Center. CLOSED.

Critics had a grand time at this environmental rethinking of Maria Irene Fornes' avant-garde chamber drama, which the company Trick Saddle has reset on an airplane flight in 1971, complete with trim stewardesses' skirts and helpings of Tang. Too much campy fun, in fact, is the problem for the production's few detractors, who wonder if Fornes' unsettling point of view gets lost in midair. (And no, most critics can't resist the flight puns, either.)

CurtainUp A
(Jenny Sandman) A fine re-interpretations and the only version of Fefu and Her Friends I've seen that actually made sense. Though written in 1977, Fornes' message remains ever the same: women don't know what to do with feminism. Or rather, they don't know what to do with themselves. It's a strange, unsettling play, especially so because its strong women characters are at a loss with each other and with themselves. Without a man to center around, they disintegrate into cattiness and then madness...The result is a fantastic example of ensemble acting, led by equally gifted directors Clove Galilee and Jenny Rogers...This may be the only time I've ever actually enjoyed being on an airplane.

Gothamist A
(John Del Signore) It's a brilliant concept, and one that gives the ensemble great freedom to explore Fornes's ideas about feminism and chauvinism in a theatrically fecund milieu, while staying true to the original's avant-garde essence...An exception to the uniform giddiness is Maria Parra's riveting performance as the wheelchair-bound Julia; without Parra's dark-eyed gravitas, the show's dramatic nosedive from dizzy effervescence to harrowing turbulence might have felt forced—instead, it's inevitable.

Village Voice A-
(Garrett Eisler) There's much for Fefu fans to dispute in this radical adaptation by the company Trick Saddle, and, inevitably, many details just don't translate. (The "wickets," for instance, figure in croquet games, now implausibly played in the plane's aisles.) Still, the deconstruction honors Fornés's essence, and as an intriguing and creative piece in its own right, Wickets is faux-site-specific performance at its best. A-
(Heather Lee Rogers) A fun, exciting, and unique theatrical experience...This isn't a show you attend, it's one you board! The play happens all around you in a fantastically elaborate airplane set...All of this texture really makes Fornes's dialogue soar. A clear standout in handling the text in this regard is Lee Eddy as Fefu, whose strong performance sets the bar. However, somewhere in the air between New York and Paris, the feminist bite of the play got a little dulled from the original.

That Sounds Cool A-
(Aaron Riccio) There are no seatbelts on the mock airplane set of Jenny Rogers’s adaptation of Maria Irene Fornes’s Fefu & Her Friends. None are needed: Wickets is engaging and smooth, but it’s hardly dramatically turbulent. Nor should it be: by sticking to the surfaces, co-directors Rogers and Clove Galilee are being true to the eight stewardesses on Wicket Air Flight #1971...The deeper truths come out in loose yet cryptic monologues, and through an interpretation of Fornes’s experimental style that collages text and breaks out into song and dance...In the end, Wickets is more of a feeling than a play, but the impressions formed by this hundred-minute flight are more than filling.

New York Post B+
(Frank Scheck) Now that "Boeing-Boe ing" has flown the coop, the sexiest stewardesses in the theater these days are at "Wickets"--an inventive and immersing theatrical experience that's a lot cheaper (and more fun) than an actual flight to Paris...The frequently hilarious dialogue is filled with non sequiturs, but some story lines eventually emerge--revelations involving a clandestine romantic relationship and a mysterious hunting accident that's left one of them in a wheelchair..."Wickets" is ultimately more notable for its sheer novelty than its murky explorations into the female psyche, but it's a memorable journey all the same.

The New York Times B+
(Claudia La Rocco) Mostly the action charts the quicksilver, violent swings between smooth facade and inner turmoil: one moment moist towelettes are offered to business-class audience members, the next a woman confides to her colleague that every breath is painful, that a former colleague has gone mad, that she has meant to call...“Wickets” is at its most effective when hovering deftly in this in-between state (insert flying metaphor here), simultaneously operating as madcap farce, probing emotional exploration and feminist critique...A creeping strangeness takes hold.

Time Out NY B+
(Helen Shaw) A bright and clever production that taxis toward excellence—even if it never completely takes off...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...What the piece can’t manage is Fornes’s free-floating dread...For a piece that means to recheck the heavier bits of feminism’s baggage, Wickets winds up being a disarmingly sweet flight of fancy.

Offoffonline B+
(Li Cornfield) For all the delight derived from the quirky realism of Wickets' set, the aircraft contains elements of the surreal; how many passenger planes have floors lined with AstroTurf? Its consciously idiosyncratic aesthetic is indicative of the entire production, which balances a kitschy celebration of sisterhood with an examination of the turmoil that incited feminism's second wave...Curiously, a number of cast members employ inconsistent accents that are as distracting as they are unneeded. Like a long airline flight, Wickets isn’t always smooth. When it soars, it’s a thrill to be part of it.

Backstage B
(Andy Propst) Enjoyable if uneven...Certain aspects of Fornes' play actually fit more comfortably in the time period of Wickets...Elsewhere, though, the new time frame and location are curiously at odds with the text, a notable example being a raucous croquet sequence into which text from Valerie Solanas' 1967 "SCUM Manifesto" has been inserted. Still, it's difficult to resist the incongruity of the moment given Jona Tuck's marvelously manic delivery. Ultimately, such infectious exuberance is the hallmark of the production.

The New Yorker B
The actors are bright and energetic, the heels high, and the skirts short; Rogers and Galilee have added dialogue from a porn movie, text from Valerie Solanas’s “SCUM Manifesto,” and song-and-dance numbers set to “Cecilia” and “White Rabbit.” What’s meant to reëxamine second-wave feminism ends up coming close to camp—or to a colorful party where the guests forget about the host.

CurtainUp A 13; Gothamist A 13; Village Voice A- 12; A- 12; That Sounds Cool A- 12; New York Post B+ 11; The New York Times B+ 11; Time Out NY B+ 11; Offoffonline B+ 11; Backstage B 10; The New Yorker B 10; TOTAL: 126/11=11.45 (B+)

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