Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: A Dark Play That Will Wake You Up

By Ed Malin

Puss N Puss Productions has brought to this year’s Frigid Festival the most scarily intriguing play title I can remember: How to Sell Your Gang Rape Baby For Parts.  Co-stars Ali Ayala and Libby Emmons wrote the play, which is gloriously directed by Michele Travis. My guess is that the name of the company (and the names of the characters, who both call each other “Puss”) come from resistance to the current administration and what the Commander In Chief stated he likes to grab.  This is indeed a play about liberation.
I hope this makes you want to see the show more.  You really should see it this weekend at The Kraine. The really great thing about this show (which starts off as an understated chat between Human Resources co-workers Ali and Libby) is the acknowledgment that life has become a bit overwhelming.  We are clearly in New York, some time after the 2016 election, in an office where people do work they don’t like, and where the management subjects the staff to mandatory team-building exercises at Chelsea Piers. (“Since when is HR part of the team?”)  Horrible things happen all the time, and it takes just an extra bit of motivation to respond to them.  Ali and Libby are very honest with each other about picking their battles.  At one point they quip that since they are women under this regime, life already sucks.  “Do you think more estrogen would make me a better/nicer woman?” receives the answer “no.”
They have an unseen co-worker who is reportedly eating away her troubles in the break room.  Oh no, she isn’t just eating for herself; she recently went to a party where she was gang raped by an entire football team.  Soon, she will give birth to a gang rape baby.  This is one more massively terrible thing which should not be excused away for any reason.  Even if the victim was politically incorrect?  “Why did she vote for Trump if she didn’t want to get raped?”  The gray area turns the tables and gives us lots of jokes I never thought I’d laugh at.  What will it take for the women of this office to band together?  Times are indeed almost unbearable, so Libby again tries to blame the victim.  “Everyone gets raped; the least you can do is be on the pill.”
While Ali ponders why their boss, who is transitioning from male to female, has strongly counseled the victim to abort her pregnancy (“maternity leave is too expensive”), Libby sees a silver lining.  If the baby is carried to term, it can be sold to interested parents.  This dream is shattered when they realize that the football team was not all white. Yes, the dark humor goes even deeper.  For, imagine what Libby and Ali (now her partner in the deal) could make from selling the organs of the fetus?  If you had a blind child, what would you pay for a gang rape baby’s eyes? Libby and Ali mean well.  Libby, whose husband recently died and has been excused from being in life-affirming situations, would love to quit her job.  Ali wants some body modification: you guessed it, the “ass  fat boob job”.  Is it “cannibalism or upcycling”? I really shouldn’t tell you if they succeed with their plans or not.  Success would take on a whole new meaning. All involved have great chemistry and a real knack for delivering lines that would be repulsive or at least very depressing. I’m sure you will want to stop the madness and work against any world order where this story would really happen.