It says Ross (Mark Hoffman). It should be Mark Hofmaier. She Said, She Said, a Curtainup review CurtainUp
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A CurtainUp Review
She Said, She Said

Three women are killed every day in this country by their husbands or boyfriends. How complicated is that?— Nina
She Said, She Said
Julianne Carpenter
(Photo: Jim Baldassare)
Desperate Housewives meets Sex and the City in Kathryn Chetkovich's She Said, She Said. The production was developed at WorkShop Theater Company and is handily directed by Peter Sylvester, who doesn't seem at all constrained by his small stage and limited resources.

She Said, She Said focuses on four women who share confidences and the vicissitudes of their life at a local bar. Three of them— Claire (Julianne Carpenter), Nina (Dee Dee Friedman) and Jamie (Shelley McPherson)— are college friends who have remained close through the two decades since graduation. CoCo (Ashley Anderson) is a twentyish cocktail waitress with flexible morals.

Each of the women has her own issues. Claire is pregnant and about to marry her longtime boyfriend, Dan (Tom Berdik). Nina is a no-nonsense single woman who works at a center for abused women. Jamie is about to be divorced from her abusive husband, Ross (Mark Hofmaier), who has been seeing a much younger woman for over a year. The situation is complicated by the fact that Dan and Ross are brothers.

Only CoCo, who is too young to face the problems of a mature woman, is blissfully unconcerned with the pitfalls that await women who as Nina says, end up "cleaning up after some old fart who pees all over the bathroom floor." Besides, CoCo has a nifty deal with her boss at the bar; she sleeps with him once a week and he pays her rent.

Dan is convinced Claire doesn't like his brother, especially when she refuses to help Ross find employment with the college where she works. Claire is sure Dan doesn't like Jamie and blames her for the breakup. It soon becomes apparent that Jamie and Ross's divorce may seriously threaten Claire and Dan's relationship.

As Claire and Jamie attempt to sort out their lives, the two bystanders, CoCo and Nina, chime in with advice from opposite poles of the female experience. CoCo believes women need to look out for themselves. In fact, she seems much more concerned with men who are trapped in boring marriages then the women they are betraying. Nina maintains that "being monogamous is what gets you through the unhappy stretches." As the play unfolds, it often seems that CoCo and Nina, as portrayed by the capable Anderson and Friedman, are far more interesting than the actual combatants.

With the aid of a curtain, which doubles as a screen for projections, placed center stage, Sylvester keeps the action moving briskly from scene to scene. This gives the audience ample opportunity to understand the situation from all the different point of view.

Dealing with relationships in a post-feminist world can be an opportunity for blazing new paths into our psyches and our cultural and social expectations and values. Chetkovich's play is not an insignificant attempt. It has wit and zest. But, in the end, it simply rehashes the old complaints — albeit quite eloquently.

Often Chetkovich seems to be working with an outdated paradigm. But who among the sisterhood would not at least partly agree with Nina when she says, "Women are a mess. They're weak and inconsistent, desperate for approval, devious as hell. They don't want to pay their own way, and then they're surprised when men expect something in return. They say they want power, and then they cry if someone's mean to them. They're horrible to other women, and all they want to talk about is men. I can barely stand to be around them half the time. But I can't help it — they're my tribe."

She Said, She Said
Written Kathryn Chetkovich
Directed by Peter Sylvester
Cast: Ashley Anderson (CoCo), Dee Dee Friedman (Nina), Julianne Carpenter (Claire), Shelley McPherson (Jamie), Mark Hofmaier (Ross), Tom Berdik (Dan)
Set Designer: Mark Symczak
Lighting Designer: Duane Pagano
Costume Designer: Cynthia D. Johnson
Sound Designer: Peter Carpenter
Running Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes, no intermission
WorkShop Theater Company, 312 West 36th Street, 4th Floor (212) 352-3101
From 3/12/09; opening 3/16/09; closing 4/4/09
Wednesday — Saturday at 8pm
Tickets: $18, students $15, TDF vouchers accepted
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons March 16, 2009
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