A haunting, meta experience: “This American Wife”

Presented by FourthWall Theatrical, in association with Fake Friends and Jeremy O. Harris
Conceived & Written by Michael Breslin & Patrick Foley
Directed by Rory Pelsue
Dramaturgy by Cat Rodríguez and Ariel Sibert
Sound Design by Kathy Ruvuna
Lighting Design by Amith Chandrashaker
Scenic Design by Stephanie Osin Cohen
Featuring Michael Breslin, Patrick Foley, and Jakeem Dante Powell

May 20- June 6, 2021
Streamed over the internets via Stellar tickets
Fake Friends on Facebook

Critique by Afrikah Smith

“Who’s watching this?”
    “It’s just for me.” — Michael to Patrick, This American Wife

ONLINE — Catching my attention from the moment it began, This American Wife is a thrilling play that speaks to our cultural obsession of American reality TV. A house staple in escaping our current realities and trauma, theatre company Fake Friends invites audiences to witness and reckon with the art of reality TV. 

Entering into the virtual realm, the preshow music created by Kathy Ruvuna hooked me in with catchy beats and lyrics. Dancing in my seat, I was ready to expect an album drop and excited for the show to begin.

From the beginning to end, This American Wife had me on the edge of my seat. I was intrigued by the mysterious, almost too perfect character of Wife’ and the progression of Jakeem, Michael, and Patrick. I was in awe by the twists and turns of events. Beginning as an invitation to live the fantasy, the three actors step into the world of The Real Housewives. Adorned in pink attire they roam around the Wife’s McMansion, embodying different Housewives; speaking lines from iconic episodes verbatim. They were followed by cameras and bright lighting. Nothing could be hidden from the audience; or so I thought.

A mix between being scripted and improvised, This American Wife made a very clear connection to our societal obsession of reality TV and the blurred lines. Without wanting to miss a single moment, my eyes were glued to the screen the entire time. I was both captivated and haunted by what this show achieved so well in tasking us: re-examining reality.

 Is it constructed, projected, or a combination of the two? Is any of it real?

This performance really piqued me as someone who doesn’t engage with TV often. But, the influence of the dramaturgy of the play was so clear to understand and grasp the chaos that unraveled throughout the show. Ariel Sibert and Catherine María Rodríguez, dramaturgs for the production, speak to these themes of identity, ego, the “true” self, and consumption, that absolutely clocked me after seeing the performance.

The intent behind the choices made in the show were so clear, and they achieved a meta experience. Being a live streamed performance with cameras constantly present, This American Wife takes advantage of this mind-blowing, yet haunting use of the virtual medium.

This is a show not to miss. If you like drama, people watching, or are avid watchers of reality TV like The Real Housewives, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Big Brother, this is for you.

Running from May 20 to June 6, more information for This American Wife can be found at http://www.thisamericanwife.live/.

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