Saturday, February 27, 2016

Review: Spittin' Women

Catching the wave of a rising trend and capitalizing on its success is always a smart idea. But the product has to be just as good, if not better. The biggest theatrical phenomenon right now is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. In this show you might not have seen because tickets are just not available, a well-known character of history is given the rap musical treatment. Sara Stock, Lindsay Taylor and Isaac Folch take a well-known story and attempt to give it the hip-hop treatment. The story? Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”. Lil Women is not Hamilton nor is it quite “Astonishing.” But it's fun.
With the cliff notes version of “Little Women” stuffed into sixty quick minutes, as it stands now, Lil Women is a stylistically confusing piece. The source material is dramatic by nature but Stock, Taylor, and Folch put hints of comedy in it. And when the comedy is punched, Lil Women is hilarious. Lil Women is a natural comedy. The more dramatic moments don’t quite work. Commenting on the rap musical trend through comedy is what may serve Lil Women best. With the amount of substance in the source material, there was little time for character development or hitting the necessary beats for a well-made piece. There’s no time for character arcs. Knowing “Little Women” is incredibly necessary to fully comprehend the musical. That being said, you have to appreciate the skill Isaac Folch has put into the piece. The rhymes through his lyrics are well-placed and proficient. Even the music, which samples and finds inspiration from some of the most infamous 90s hip-hop and rap. Pick up on it or not, it should bring a smile to your face.
The company of Lil Women was mixed with proficient spitters and some who were, well not. Those who could get the rhymes out stood out. Two of the strongest overall performers were Rebecca Siegel as Jo March and Megan Borkes as Beth March. Both Siegel and Borkes are talented rappers but they individually offered something fresh. Siegel is a strong actress, finding depth in Jo. Borkes is a hilarious comedian. Never going over the top, Megan Borkes is just naturally funny. As the baby, Croix Provence capitalized on crafting a character. She took the elements that made up Amy March and highlighted them in true caricature form. And that’s why Provence was exciting to watch. She’s one who made a case for a spinoff.
Directorial, Lindsay Taylor’s mission was to keep Lil Women moving. Unfortunately that didn’t quite happen. With the Kraine’s unique entrance options, utilizing the revolving doors would have assisted with the transitional woes. Additionally, comedy wants to be fast. There were several beats missed, as the pacing was a tad slow.
Lil Women could be something worthy with some necessary polishing and some dramaturgical assistance. It just needs to learn what it wants to be and own it.