Presented by Science Fiction Theatre Company
By Crystal Jackson
Directed by Cait Robinson
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston, MA) The moral of The Singularity is that if women don’t have access to the safe, affordable health care, they’ll do what they must to get it unaffordably and unsafely. For example, if access to safe abortions is severely limited or denied outright that doesn’t mean that women won’t have abortions. It means that more women will die having unsafe, illegal abortions*. Playwright Crystal Jackson attacks the opposite of safe abortion in this comedy presented by Science Fiction Theatre Co.
Astrid (Kathy-Ann Hart) wants to incubate a baby in her womb. She has fewer than 12 hours before her last egg drops and she officially enters Menopause. In her desperation, she signs up for artificial insemination at a cafeteria style hospital and from there gets dicked around by men who offer their help in unsavory ways. With only a short time left, she takes matters into her own hands by self-inseminating unified dark matter (the stuff black holes are made of) with a turkey baster. Through a series of long, man-splainy monologues and scenes, Astrid gets what she wants but not how she wants it.
The stories presented to us are those of men. Astrid is the only female character and her development is secondary to theirs. We learn about everyone but Astrid: The Nurse (and intensely creepy Matthew Zahnzinger) likes to threaten patients into playing slap jack, works nights at Jim’s Health N’ Stuff and enjoys casual sadism in his spare time; Bob (Robin Gabrielli) delves into deranged detail about his own scheduled surgery when Astrid can’t even finish a consultation; The Scientist (David D’Andrea) has stolen unified dark matter so he can do experiments at home because he wants to be a researcher when he finally grows up. Even Astrid’s bestie, Kyle (Nick Bennett-Zendzian), gets to discuss his disinterest in children more than we hear about Astrid’s reason for wanting one. The Lawyer (Ervin Melara) and Doctor (Stewart Evan Smith) aren’t so much men as chronically insensitive caricatures of men working in a system that rewards them for bullying women. These men dictate Astrid’s comings and goings; they influence the world in ways that Astrid can’t.
Curiously, we aren’t introduced to Astrid as a person. We don’t know why she waited so long to get pregnant. We don’t hear her explain why she put dark matter inside of her with a turkey baster. Rather, she is merely an incubating device hellbent on hosting a baby, a sounding board for male characters with manly-man opinions for men. The lack of focus on Astrid’s story suggests that the point of all this mayhem is to highlight the part men play in women’s journey towards full-coverage health care. This isn’t a story about a woman getting pregnant. It’s a story about men preventing her from getting pregnant safely.
The Singularity is a funny show. It’ll have you laughing even as you cross your legs and wince. For this, much of the credit goes to Hart for her portrayal of Astrid as an overwhelmed Everywoman willing to put up with a lot of grief in order to achieve her goals. Hart’s reactions are golden and, without her playing the straight man to the drama around her, the show would not be nearly as funny.
Alas, the climax of The Singularity was unsatisfying. We have this hilarious play that builds nicely towards a birth scene but when we finally reach the big moment the production falls flat. The play just ends. The cast came out for their bows and the audience didn’t know if they should clap. We got on with it but no audience should be kept guessing.
Science Fiction Theatre Co and Cait Robinson’s casting decisions support much needed diversity. The script calls for only one woman but the crew did not default to White Female. There are six male roles and they did not default to White male. Thank you.
The best/worst part of The Singularity is how realistic the drama Astrid experiences is. Jackson cashes in on the assholery of “Nice Guys” who don’t know why stupid, ungrateful bitches put them in the Friendzone** by turning their BS into comedy gold. This production is well worth attending if one enjoys smashing the patriarchy with satire.
* I’m not going to Google it for you. Strap on your big kid pants and look it up yourself.