Not Your Peaches ‘N Cream, Minority Vagina: C1’s “peerless”

Khloe Alice Lin as L, James Wechsler as D, and Kim Klasner as M in peerless (credit_Paul Fox). It will not be okay.

 

Presented by Company One Theatre and the Boston Public Library
Written by Jiehae Park
Based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth
Directed by Steven Bogart
Dramaturgy by Haley Fluke
Choreography by Beverly Diaz

April 27 – May 27, 2017
Rabb Hall, Central Library in Copley Square
Boston, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

“The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements.”
– Lady Macbeth, Mackers, Shakespeare

(Boston, MA) Baby Boomers have ruined the economy for millennials. My own well-intentioned parents asked me when I’m going to buy a house. My wife and I could only laugh. Then we cried. We cried a lot. It’s not going to happen. We have too much student loan debt. Houses in Somerville are no longer things the middle-class can afford. 

The Boomers, thanks to their economic mutilation, have ensured that the majority of students in college, or in preparation thereof, will accrue unreasonable amounts of debt by merely adhering to career demands. Attending a big name university is no longer the assured win it used to be. The debt, a flailing economy, and a job market stagnated by Boomers who can’t afford to retire mean that new college graduates will fail economically before they enter the workforce because there are no jobs. Still, they’re obligated to adhere to the same life goals their parents achieved while maintaining a brand new status quo set forth by their peers. The debt never ends. 

In peerless M (Kim Klasner) and L (Khloe Alice Lin) are two perfect students determined to attend the perfect college. The perfect college accepts only one student from their school a year. This year it wasn’t either one of them. No, it accepted nerd-hero with epic dance moves, D (James Wechsler). M & L are determined to even the playing field by any means necessary. It is only at the preternatural warning of Dirty Girl (Brenna Fitzgerald) that M begins to have second thoughts. Kadahj Bennett appears as the effortlessly funny BF.

peerless is about the college application process, chronic stress, and Shakespeare’s Mackers. Applying to college is cutthroat business. Kids land in the hospital, or even die because of unrealistic expectations. Mackers is a handy story to explain the pain kids (and their parents) put themselves through. While playwright Jiehae Park takes liberties with behaviors, she nails the very realistic pressure alpha students experience. Her depiction of gender, racial, and other biases are also spot on. Prepare to be offended by the truths of hellish high school social dynamics.

The cast is great. Klasner and Lin are engrossed in their twin code, and at times resemble the Grady twins from The Shining. Lin captures an homicidal unhingement that integrated psychopaths use to fit into society. L isn’t driven; she’s broken. Klasner, on the other hand, is the foil to Lin’s absurdity. She carries peerless with an exhaustless stability. The big jokes, twists, and decisions go to other characters yet Klasner maintains heroic stoicism in the face of overwhelming absurdity. If Lin is the “bad” twin, Klasner is nearly the “good” twin.   

Fitzgerald is Ally Sheedy’s goth basketcase in The Breakfast Club meets the mythic Cassandra. She’s off-kilter, but chaotic good. She’s an effective teenage witch; doing what she will and harming only a few.  

It’s a shame what happens to D. Wechsler makes him a believable, very sweet kid with social anxiety and Mom-issues. Alas, he’s a straight, white boy stereotype. While in the real world, his whiteness would save him, it doesn’t in this play. Nice Guys™, like D and BF,  finish first and last.

The jigsaw set design in blues and whites by Jiyoung Han is reminiscent of Piet Mondrian triangles. Lee Schuna’s work with rat nibble noises is super creepy. The sound design is subtle and effective. 

The fight choreography looks safe but not realistic. Whether an actor or a fight designer issue, C1 is too good a company for their fights scenes not to be both.

The scene changes are too long. They break up the energy that the cast so carefully cultivates. For example, the audience needs a distraction greater than a slow-moving “Hoopcoming”projection if the costume changes aren’t quick.

The cast of peerless draw all of the right responses from the audience. We are catapulted back to high school when all emotions were high, and emotional permanence a mere twinkle in our future’s horizon. Seriously, this play could trigger anyone experiencing a life crisis*. This show presents us with almost-adults tackling actual adult problems with immaturity. It should be no surprise that many adults would face these very pressures in the same way.


*I used to have dreams! And now all I have is this massive debt, and a secondhand alumni mug to show for it.

 

Queen’s Note:
We elected a thin-skinned bigot to the office of the President dead set on turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so.

Congressional “negotiators” released a spending bill that saves the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and National Public Radio until September at which time, the President and his impotent cronies may still cut arts funding. It is ever important to remain vigilant. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD

TCG has a list of things you can do to help.

#blacklivesmatter #translivesmatter #brownlivesmatter #yellowlivesmatter #lgbtqialivesmatter #immigrantlivesmatter #muslimlivesmatter #disabledlivesmatter #theatreartsmatter #NODAPL

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