October 20, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Theater Review: The Female of the Species:

Editor-at-Large

In what can only be described as a masturbatory exercise in debating the effects of feminism, Joanna Murray-Smith’s pseudo-intellectual farce, The Female of the Species, made its American premiere at the Geffen Playhouse.  The script attempts to take a jab at just about every politically correct or incorrect issue with which women have been struggling for ages, and Murray-Smith has created six cardboard characters to recite her ruminations.   

Originally premiered at the Melbourne Theatre Company in 2006, the story, loosely based on an actual incident between Germaine Greer and a young, disillusioned devotee, takes place in the living room of Margot Mason, ferociously played by Annette Bening, with ample histrionics and vocal gymnastics.

The play begins with Mason having a telephone conversation with her publisher who is pushing for her next book. The first word we hear is “the F-word,” an effective, if not a cheap way to get a laugh. (Murray-Smith is no David Mamet and the play is no Glengarry Glen Ross.)  The playwright uses this cheap device throughout, sprinkling the dialogue with a variety of body parts and a lot more ****.

Mason, the aging, egocentric author of such books with sophomoric titles as Madame Ovary and The Complete Insignificance of Male Sexuality, is in the throws of a writer’s block and has only been able to write a few hundred words. Mason’s philosophy on feminism, that guided generations of women, is about to rear its ugly head in the character of a gun-totin’ young lady named Molly Rivers, played by Merritt Wever.  Rivers shows up unannounced at Mason’s country home in the guise of thanking her for her contribution to feminism, but soon we learn that she is actually there to kill her.  This distraught, but determined young lady, was a student of Mason’s who told her she had no talent.  If that wasn’t bad enough, Molly’s mother, based on the feminist theories put forth in Mason’s book entitled The Cerebral Vagina, abandoned Rivers at birth, and eventually threw herself in front of a train clutching the book that ruled and ultimately ruined both their lives.

But wait, more stereotypical characters begin showing up unexpectedly delaying the execution.  Darn.  There’s Mason’s pathetic daughter Tess, who is in the middle of a nervous breakdown, very well played by Mireille Enos.  Then we have her moronic husband Bryan played by David Arquette, Frank the hunky cab driver played by Josh Stamberg, and the, very elegant, and yes homosexual, literary agent, played by Julian Sands.

While some lines in the play are “sit-com” funny, the dialogue is written with only one “voice” so that all the characters have the same intelligence, articulation, cadence, and vocabulary resulting in what vocally sounds like a monologue divided into six parts, with delivery sometimes ranging from loud, louder, loudest.

Technically, director Randall Arney staged the production effectively on a beautiful set designed by Takeshi Kata and lit by Daniel Ionazzi, but failed to elicit performances with any depth as his actors never got beneath the surface of the dialogue to something called sub-text which may have been challenging considering the limitations of the script. 

The Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024, Run:  Thurs.-Sun. thru March 14, Tickets:  310. 208.5454. 

Related Posts

Review: “Away”

September 21, 2020

September 21, 2020

“Away”Rated TV-14Season 1 – 10 One-Hour EpisodesReleased September 4th on Netflix In 2014 Esquire Magazine published a thorough article by...

Beloved Santa Monica Artist Passes Away at 99

August 31, 2020

August 31, 2020

Venezuelan born artist surrealist artist Luchita Hurtado passes away  By Toi Creel For some in Santa Monica, the name Luchita...

Brock on Your Block: Saturday Morning Neighborhood Jazz

August 24, 2020

August 24, 2020

In the latest Brock on Your Block, Phil discovers an impromptu Jazz Concert by the neighbors – a great way...

Film/TV Review: Upload

May 28, 2020

May 28, 2020

FILM/TV REVIEWUPLOADRated TV-MA30-Minute EpisodesSeason 1,10 Episodes Released on Amazon Prime May 1st Upload has the guise of a cute rom-com....

Edify TV: Santa Monica Place Food Court Vacancies

March 10, 2020

March 10, 2020

Another restaurant has closed in the Santa Monica Place food court, adding to the number of vendor vacancies. Learn more...

Fried Chicken and Doughnut Joint Closes Santa Monica Location

March 4, 2020

March 4, 2020

All Southern California Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken shut down By Toi Creel After an almost three-year-long stint, Astro Doughnuts...

Edify TV: Free and Affordable Meals for SMC Students

March 3, 2020

March 3, 2020

Santa Monica College has opened its first Everytable SmartFridge. Learn more about this program to make healthy meals affordable for under $5 (and...

Lazy Daisy Cafe to Reopen Doors With New Menu, Ownership

February 27, 2020

February 27, 2020

Feb. 28 soft opening By Toi Creel A popular Santa Monica eatery-once planned to be closed for good – is...

Cinema at the Edge Film Festival Returns

February 19, 2020

February 19, 2020

February 21st to 23rd – Edgemar Center for the Arts By Staff Writer Housed at the Edgemar Center for the...

My Own Academy Awards

February 7, 2020

February 7, 2020

On May 16, 1929, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an organization founded by Louis B. Mayer to...

Brock on Your Block: The Maiden Factor

February 3, 2020

February 3, 2020

Phil Brock meets Tracy Edwards, MBE, skipper of Maiden, who led the first all-female crew to complete the Whitbread Round...

Santa Monica High School Graduate Becomes NASA Astronaut

January 14, 2020

January 14, 2020

Dr. Jonny Kim becomes first Korean American astronaut By Sam Catanzaro A graduate of Santa Monica High School (SAMOHI) has...