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|A CurtainUp Review
The Female Terrorist Project
By Amanda Cooper
In The Female Terrorist Project Ken Urban has chronicled a fictional near future. It tracks Amelia, a college professor who's researching female terrorists. Amelia's research rouses suspicion among her colleagues and she soon finds herself under investigation by the government and then fired. Fed up with the system, she begins to follow an underground female activist group (read: terrorists). It's not too long before research and observation lead to her taking part in their activities.
To show why and how Amelia came to be a part of a terrorist group, the play intersperses scenes showing Amelia being interrogated with scenes in which she interviews infamous, historic female terrorists, as well as monologues of said terrorists addressing the audience. Miss Kim Hyon Hui was trained by the North Korean goverment and blew up a South Korean airline flight, Shelley Shannon was an Oregon resident who, for "moral" reasons began firebombing abortion clinics, or as she called them, "killing mills." Of the five female terrorists, four are non-fictional, and all five are meant to shed light on fictional Amelia's decision to join them. .
The raw, yet warm space that is the Chocolate Factory theater is simply lit without much color. The staging is stark, with just a few tables and chairs. Director Laramie Dennis uses the unconventional space most effectively, using the whole playing area throughout the show -- shaftway, rolling large metal door. In fact, the staging works better than most of the too purposeful movement that takes place in the center stage vicinity.
The cast is solid, with shout-outs for some of the ensemble members: The striking Lael Logan, the physical timidity of Zina Camblin, and Travis York's pushy presence. Though Molly Powell who plays Amelia is clearly a seasoned performer, her portrayal is less impressive.
Playwright Ken Urban's ambitious script has some very powerful moments. I can't remember the last time I saw a gunshot used so successfully on stage. Artistic expressions about the dangers involved in sacrificing our freedoms for our safety is relevant. Even stating that the slope our government is headed down just may push reasonable, moral, people to commit extreme, even horrendous acts is not without validity. But many of Urban's plot points and his use of these plot points to double as shock tactics were unnecessary and distracted from his message.
Perhaps those itching to see something that is anti-conservative government will feel fulfilled. I was left feeling mostly dubious.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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