Monday, December 9, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W49: Fefu and Her Friends, NTLive: Present Laughter

12/07/19: Fefu and Her Friends
What: Fefu hosts a gathering of her female friends at her house, ostensibly to plan for an upcoming fundraising presentation. Maria Irene Fornes's 1977 play helped begin promenade theater (with the middle section composed of four scenes performed simultaneously, the audience rotating among the four until they've seen them all), an important ancestor of immersive theater productions like Sleep No More and Then She Fell.
And? If you try to sort out what the show is "about," you might not have the best time. The reason the friends are gathered is more McGuffin than anything else. It's about who these women are when they're quietly unobserved: practicing French, philosophizing about love or genitals, quietly worrying for their safety or for the safety of their friends. And bourbon and ice cubes and croquet and water fights and bad jokes. The actors are perfect, distinct and human, full of will and contradictions, and Montana Levi Blanco's costume design is stunning. While I will admit to not perfectly understanding all that I saw, I'm fine with that; my only real complaint is about the nature of the promenade section of the play: it was not always communicated clearly who was meant to go where, which led to confusion at each stage of transition, and because each scene was in hearing distance of the others, I had trouble hearing the scene in front of me, as my ears strained at catching the farther away dialog.

Ronete Levenson, Lindsay Rico, Helen Cespedes, Jennifer Lim, and Brittany
Bradford as Sue, Paula, Emma, Cindy, and Julia. Photo by Henry Grossman.

12/08/19: NTLive: Present Laughter
NTLive broadcast of the same production I saw at the Old Vic this summer. Still perfection. I wouldn't mind seeing it five more times.

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