The hands-down laughs-per-minute champ at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival may well be Women (aka Women The Show), Chiara Atik’s NYC-bred mashup of Louisa Mae Alcott’s Little Women and Lena Dunham’s Girls, and you don’t have to know a thing about the HBO hit to have a Fringetastic time with Jo, Meg, Beth, Amy and their entourage.
Yes, fans of Dunham’s 21st Century big girls will likely recognize Marmie’s brood as (respectively) Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, and Jessa—or so I’m told—but all you really need to know is that the second Marmie has left the room, the March girls start gabbing in contemporary big-city-girl vernacular (sis Amy’s delivered with Jessa’s crisp British vowels, never mind why) despite period garb and references to the still raging American Civil War.
Told as a series of rapid-fire sketches and directed with such razor-sharp comedic savvy by Stephanie Ward that even scene changes prove delightful, Women revives Alcott’s major plot points and beloved characters including boy-next-door Laurie (né Larry here), handsome stuffed shirt John Brooke, Teutonic tenderheart Professor Bhaer, grumpy-old-man neighbor Mr. Lawrence, and a pair of Atik creations, Clovis and Carl, the latter of whose 11th-hour appearance may well provoke the evening’s biggest, longest laugh … and that’s saying something considering how many big, long laughs there are.
Oh, and as Women’s production company Beth Dies, Inc., its hashtag #bethdies, and a pesky cough from sister number three make clear from the get-go, not all of Alcott/Atik’s (Little) Women make it to final curtain.
(Did I mention that Jo’s a lesbian this time round?)
Women’s cast of comedically gifted visitors from New York—Layla Khoshnoudi (Jo), Abby Rosebrock (Meg), Rachel Lin (Beth), Lydian Blossom (Amy), Vicki Rodriguez (Marmee), Zac Moon (Luarie), Bradley Anderson (Mr. Brooke), Stephen Stout (Professor Bhaer) and Brett Epstein (Everyone Else) could not be better or funnier.
Kudos to Jonathan Cottle (lighting) and Robert Dowling (sound) for their expert designs. Anne Huston is stage manager/technical director.
Beth may indeed die a little past midway through Women, but she’s not alone. Hollywood Fringe audience will be dying too—of laughter.
June 18, 2014