Presented by Company One Theatre
Written by Alice Birch
Directed by Summer L. Williams
Dramaturgy by Jessie Baxter
Compositions by Allyssa Jones
Choreography by Misha Shields
October 21 – November 19, 2016
Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts
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Post-Show Chats Following Every Thursday Performance
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston, MA) Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. is what one gets if feminist theory, on trend “feminist” media marketing, Hollywood, and the theatre are whirled in a blender until lumpy but delicious. Add speed and tequila, to taste. It’s wild but it’s solid. Feminist scholars will love it. Those new to feminism may not fully grasp the nuances but should attend for educational and entertainment purposes. MRAs will hate it because they lack a sense of humor. People seeking a stronger male voice can go to any of the other theatre in town.
Playwright Alice Birch was inspired in part by Valerie Solanas’ The SCUM Manifesto. It’s an understandably angry diatribe demanding the expulsion of men from the human race from the perspective of a woman marginalized by patriarchal society. Birch’s script examines feminist language, and custom against the backdrop of society’s cultural expectations. The ensemble (Christina Brown, Ally Dawson, Becca A. Lewis, Jeff Marcus) is given supertitle cues such as “Engage with the Work.” The cast then plays out sketches by enacting the cues for the benefit of the audience. They characters aren’t beholden to feminist ideology. Revolt is as much about the rocky road to equality for the individual choosing non-feminist choices as it is sticking to the feminist status quo. There are no right answers.
Birch isn’t calling for the eradication of men with her script. Instead, she flips the dialogue to include one man in her play as a representation of all men. Jeff Marcus plays characters with secondary or tertiary insight statuses. His opinion is heard but not valued. Women will immediately recognize this as it is how we are regularly portrayed in the media. Bless his heart, Marcus could easily be replaced by a sexy lamp with ripped biceps and a note. He’s appropriately attractive and unobtrusively, non-threateningly funny.
Christina Brown, Ally Dawson, and Becca A. Lewis deliver enlightening performances. They are vulnerable, angry, beautiful, pathetic, and just. They are real women fighting the aggressions Birch has written into her script. Becca A Lewis is bust-a-gut hilarious in the opening scene’s sexy times Fight Club action sequence. Christa Brown is triumphant as the woman who refuses to view marriage as an accomplishment. Ally Dawson proudly stands her ground for any woman, any person refusing to sacrifice her humanity in exchange for workplace perks. They aren’t presenting fantasy. They are presenting fantastical realities.
My lovely companion interrupted my righteous after-show revery with the smart admission that Birch’s script is not perfect. It flows beautifully with Summer L. Williams’ direction and the brilliant choreography by Misha Shields. With one exception. The dining room sequence in which Agnes breaks down what it means raise a daughter, or to be a daughter raised in this world is incongruous with the rest of the play. The pacing goes from breakneck to moderate. The symbolism is blatant; three women sit around a dining table from which they expect to eat. Williams and her cast adapt to the new direction Birch takes them in but the scene is still jarring to us. I personally believe that Birch intended for this scene to jolt us because the fight for equality is not all fast-tempo shouting. It can be quiet while we cope with the consequences of family and community. There’s a great divide between the world our mothers pass to us, the one our daughters must live in, and the one we demand for ourselves. That this scene feels out of place is natural given the topic at hand.
This show tickles the cockles of the bitter husk that is my ultra-liberal, intersectional-feminist* heart. I hope it tickles yours. Smash the Patriarchy. Smash it to pieces until there’s nothing left. Hand out mallets at rallies. Educate your children in proper smashing technique. Persist in educating yourself. Share your mallet with the men in your life so they can carve out feminist nooks in their own male-dominated spaces. Hold LGBTQIA+ workshops on smashing for the queer, non-binary person’s soul. Make sure you invite people of color to all of your events and that you attend theirs. Smash the Patriarchy until only equality through justice is left. Smash. Smash. Smash. Go see this show.
*The only real feminism is intersectional feminism.