Reviews Off-Broadway Published 17 August 2011

FringeNYC: Part 1

Three early Fringe offerings feature gender and poetry.

Richard Patterson
"Lipshtick"

Reality TV hurts. Photo: Dixie Sheridan

Lipshtick

by Romy Nordlinger and Adam Burns; directed by Bricken Sparacino

video design by Adam Burns

Dixon Place

It seems perplexing in a society where women have supposedly achieved gender equality that so much of our media is filled with blatant sexism, ageism, and the hyper sexualization of both young girls and women. Recent reality television programs have brought us such disturbing phenomena as The Swan, where women undergo drastic plastic surgery to achieve physical beauty or such creatures as Heidi Montag, a reality television star willing to risk her life simply to undergo plastic surgery to look like a living Barbie doll.

These phenomena served as inspiration for Lipshtick, which explores the sexist, misogynist aspects of our culture through a fake reality show bent on turning individualistic women into Stepford Wives with the help of plastic surgery, clips of sexist media, and a series of solo performed vignettes. The play opens with the three actors – Aja Houston, Scout Durwood, and Romy Nordlinger (who co-wrote the script) introducing their reality show in which ordinary women are given drastic makeovers in order to crush their individuality. Interspersed between segments of the show are clips of sexist media as well as vignettes.

Although some of the vignettes are less compelling than others, the ones that work are both timely and hilarious. In one, a young perfume sprayer (Scout Durwood) at Macy’s has an epiphany when she encounters a celebrity while on the job. While at first she is excited, she quickly is depressed at how little her life matters in our celebrity centered society. In tears on her cell phone she tells her friend that it was the most important day of her life, except it wasn’t, because she wasn’t even there because she doesn’t matter. As she laments on all the things she buys to feel closer to celebrities, the scene paints a clear picture of the way in which girls are negatively affected by a society focused on celebrity culture rather than creativity or individualism.

In another a Long Island woman (Romy Nordlinger) runs on a treadmill while talking on her Bluetooth to her friend, outlining her plan for physically perfecting herself so that she can marry rich. As she pushes herself through her strenuous workout routine she admits how hungry she is, how long its been since she allowed herself to feel full, instead working on perfecting her body to find her fortune: a rich husband.

In another the head of a law firm’s HR (Scout Durwood) tells a receptionist that she needs to improve her physical appearance or face being fired, acknowledging that there are different rules in appearance for both men and women. She tells her not to worry however, because the company health care plan now covers botox and collagen injections so that the receptionist can work on improving herself.

Lipshtick produces plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as well honest, poignant depictions of women troubled by our sexist culture. Much of the show’s humor can be credited to the script as well as the immense comedic skill of performer Scout Durwood.

Remaining Shows: FRI 19 @ 7:30, WED 24 @ 6:15

-Adrienne Urbanski


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Richard Patterson

A graduate of New York University with a degree in Dramatic Literature, Richard was deputy theatre editor at musicOMH.com from 2008-2011 and New York Editor of Exeunt from 2011-2016. He is excited to continue on as a contributor. With a penchant for Sondheim, the Bard, and Beckett, as well as for new writing, theatergoing highlights include Fiona Shaw's Winnie in "Happy Days," Derek Jacobi's Lear, Jonathan Pryce in "The Caretaker," and Chiwetel Ejiofor's Othello at the Donmar. Richard's criticism has been published in The Sondheim Review.

FringeNYC: Part 1 Show Info


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