ROBIN’S SHOW REVIEW & TICKET GIVEAWAY: Emotional Creature
Emotional Creature is a new play written by Tony Award®-winning playwright, performer, activist, and The Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler. Directed by Obie Award-winner Jo Bonney with original music and musical direction by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder, Emotional Creature began previews at The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street in NYC) on October 26 and officially opened on November 12.
Based on Ensler’s 2010 bestselling book, Emotional Creature boldly explores what it is to be a girl – all the joys and thrills, the rites of passage, the growing pains, and the pressures – through a series of original monologues, stories and songs. This fully-staged production spans wildly disparate cultures and continents, highlighting the diversity and commonality of the issues girls face, both personal and political, the world over. Emotional Creature was first workshopped at New York Stage and Film at Vassar College in August 2010, with subsequent workshops in Johannesburg, South Africa and Paris, France. It comes to New York on the heels of a critically acclaimed World Premiere at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California.
“Emotional Creature is about being a girl in the world in 2012 and about discovering the girl in each of us,” Ensler says. “It is about changing the verb from please to create or defy or resist or imagine. It is about traveling and dancing and refusing. It is about telling secrets and breaking taboos and building a posse.”
The cast of Emotional Creature features a young and vibrant ensemble of six: Ashley Bryant (A Free Man of Color); Molly Carden (The Bird and the Two-Ton Weight at Ensemble Studio Theatre); Emily S. Grosland (Off Broadway debut); 2012 Theatre World Award Winner Joaquina Kalukango (Hurt Village); Sade Namei (The Flying Latke at The Flea) and Olivia Oguma (A Christmas Carol; Mamma Mia!).
Like The Vagina Monologues, Emotional Creature gets into the subject of sex……
”My mother and father were doing it in the next room,” says a high school girl in one scene. ”I thought my mother was dying.” ”My two moms come at the same time,” brags another. ”My mother says know your vagina,” says a third. It’s all perfectly healthy, shrink-approved conversation. But do real-life teenagers really use sex as an excuse to talk about their parents?
I did find myself wondering who they envision as the demographic for the show. It could certainly spark a lively discussion between a mom and a daughter, but some of the monologues pack a tear-jerker punch and heavyweight material, as they feature the intense portrayal of a Bulgarian sex slave (Carden), a Kenyan girl protesting female circumcision (Kalukango), and Iranian student pressured into getting a nose job (Namei). The performances of these three was emotionally griping.
On the lighter side, yet still powerful, Olivia Oguma, adds levity as a Chinese factory worker who assembles Barbie doll heads…speaking animatedly as she grips a blonde Barbie head as she relates how she can get inside the head of Barbie in her mind and uses them as an opportunity to send out secret messages.
In the most contemporary reference, the appealing Bryant kicks off the show as a woman snapping away photos of herself in a desperate attempt to find the perfect pic for Facebook. Grosland is earnest and endearing as a girl who kissed another girl and discovered she liked it…..she also displayed a tender singing voice.
The creative team for Emotional Creature also includes Luam (Choreography), Myung Hee Cho (Scenic & Costume Design). Lap Chi Chu (Lighting Design) and Shawn Sagady (Projection Design). The choreography is high energy, the songs are appealing, and the projection design was eye-catching. The 90- minute, no intermission, Emotional Creature is a thought-provoking piece of theatre, and I’m a huge fan of Ensler’s tell it like it is, let’s push some buttons dramatic approach. She’s not afraid to make waves, and the young cast more than capably rises to the occasion.
Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues has been translated into over 48 languages, performed in over 140 countries, including sold-out runs at Off Broadway’s Westside Theater and on London’s West End (2002 Olivier Award nomination, Best Entertainment), and has run for 10 years in Mexico City and Paris. Ensler founded V-Day in 1998 and today the non-profit is a global movement to end violence against women and girls that has raised over $90 million for local anti-violence groups. V-Day activities and actions can continue to be found at vday.org.
In November 2009, Ensler was named one of US News & World Report’s “Best Leaders” in association with the Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard Kennedy School. In 2010 she was named one of “125 Women Who Changed Our World” by Good Housekeeping Magazine. In 2011 she was named one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Changed the World” and The Guardian’s “100 Most Influential Women.” Ensler’s experience performing The Vagina Monologues inspired her to create V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. She has devoted her life to stopping violence, envisioning a planet in which women and girls will be free to thrive, rather than merely survive.
Tickets for Emotional Creature are $75.00 and can be purchased at www.ticketcentral.com, by calling 212-279-4200, or at the Ticket Central box office (416 W 42nd Street) Monday through Sunday, 12 – 8 PM. The performance schedule will be as follows: Tuesday at 7:30 PM, Wednesday at 2 PM & 7:30 PM, Thursday – Friday at 7:30 PM, Saturday at 2 PM & 8 PM, Sunday at 7:30 PM. It is running through January 13, 2013.
For more information about Emotional Creature, visit www.emotionalcreature.com.
TICKET GIVEAWAY: If you’d like to be entered to win a free pair of tickets to select performances in November, drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put EMOTIONAL CREATURE in the Subject Line, and indicate why you’d like to see the show. You will be notified via email if chosen.