News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective
1st April 2012

Festival of women playwrights great success

posted in Theater, Women's issues |

Last night’s FemNoire experience at The Whistler House, the second annual festival of women playwrights sponsored by the Image Theater, reminded me of going to comedy clubs years ago and watching a revolving door of performers. FemNoire featured nine vignettes that ranged in tone from seriously funny, to intensely dramatic, and deeply sad. The varied topics and styles kept the audience laughing, at times near tears, and always attentive.

As with most creative ventures, reactions varied in terms of which plays people preferred, and with any short piece, the challenge is to grab the audience quickly, get them to care about the characters and situation, and tell a complete story within minutes.

Some of the plays that stood out were Gay Paree by Andrea Fleck Clardy, a tearjerker about a terminally ill friend asking another for help ending her pain—it is a story about the bond of female friendship and the shared joy and agony that is life. Or Lapse by Gail Phaneuf, an hysterically funny skit between a husband and wife that begins and ends with the same line: “Why’d I come in here?” The story was a laugh-out-loud romp about the very real frustration of becoming ridiculously absent minded as we age.  House Broken by Monica Bauer had some of the strongest dialogue with long, fast-paced monologues from a conservative, career Congressman being forced to resign over sexual indiscretions caught on tape with his dog.

Another play, A Parting Gift by Leslie Powell, was an intense look at domestic violence while Wife of Bobo by M. Lynda Robinson featured the most physical comedy of the night in this tale about a woman married to a clown, literally. In all, FemNoire was a fantastic good time well worth the admission price of $19 and a wonderful way to experience women’s voices in the Merrimack Valley in the incomparable venue of live theater. Kudos to all involved!

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