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A CurtainUp Review
That Pretty Pretty; or, The Rape Play
That Pretty Pretty; or, The Rape Play could be seen as a feminist polemic against men, male power, and the "boys will be boys" mentality, but any attempt at a unifying theme is really an afterthought. Two ex-strippers go on a cross-country rampage, killing men at pro-life conventions and then blogging about it. Later a male screenwriter, together with his friend Rodney ("The Rod" ) use their story as inspiration for a war movie. The lines of reality are distinctly hazy. Jane Fonda (in full aerobic mode) appears as muse and heroine several time. There's also a dream sequence involving a dinner party gone awry and even full-blown Jell-O wrestling. A raucous soundtrack to which only Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Whitesnake could do justice adds to the play's blatant and unabashed sexuality.
Perhaps the best way to summarize and explain all this may be Ms. Callaghan quoted statement that she is "critiquing the images at the same time it's trafficking in them" But don't expect it to make sense. Just sit back and enjoy the ribald, shameless, and exuberant ride. The pieces do start to tie together in the very last scene, but only in a basic way.
The cast is fantastic. I particularly enjoyed watching Lisa Joyce again (Red Light Winter, Blackbird) and Annie McNamara as the chirpy but slightly clueless Jane Fonda. Director Kip Fagan has expertly shaped what could be an imagistic mess into a play with momentum and power and the designers have done a great job of keeping a props, lights and transitions-heavy piece as fluid as possible. The scene changes have been built into the action in some very innovative ways ways. Especially clever was the transformation of a hotel room desk into a dining room table and then into a Jell-O wrestling pit.
Callaghan is also a member of 13P, a collective of working downtown playwrights known for producing offbeat plays (Have You Seen Steve Steven?, The Penetration Play), but this may be one of the strangest from one of its members. Rattlestick Playwrights Company is also known for the adventurous and off beat (Faster, American Sligo, Rag and Bone). It makes for a good fit and makes me eager to see what's next for both.