Sunday, May 27, 2007

Uncommon Women and Others

Profile Theatre
Posted by Frenchglen May 25, 2007; closes June 17, 2007.

Exceptional cast executes Wasserstein’s first play in fine form. Act one gets us going even if stakes relatively low to start. Act two finds the brass tacks hidden beneath nascent 1970’s feminism. How have they changed? Landrum, Overman, Soden anchor what must have been a story ahead of its time.


Anonymous said...

What can't Amanda Soden do?! I mean honestly, this is her year! She just broke my heart as Holly, and I love that she was willing to look chubby & dorky.

This is a great cast- very strong ensemble. Laura Faye Smith brings a gorgeous, painful presence as the shy, uncomfortable Leila and Kelly as Samantha is just cuter than cute. She brings freshness, likeability, and innocence to what could be a very dull part. Danichia as Carter just cracked me up. She is subtle and interesting- what a part!

I highly recommend this show - a night of great theatre. Well done ladies and well done Profile for such a great season!

Jeanette said...

This is a great ensemble cast, and because of that I'm willing to keep from ranting about the miscasting of Amanda Soden as overweight (or "chubby", as noted in the prior comment) - putting someone in oversized clothing and frizzing up their hair doesn't make them big, it simply makes them look sloppy and self-conscious. While the character of Holly is definitely self-conscious, she is also definitely supposed to be overweight.

That's my only critique of the show, though - the staging and music choices were well done and kept the pacing of the play moving.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Amanda here, and I totally agree with you Jeanette!! When I was called in for the audition, I said to the director: you know I'm not fat, right?! Her response was that everyone else in the show was really skinny! Anyway, while I agree with you, the sad fact is that the original Broadway actor: Alma Cuervo wasn't fat either!! A movie version of the show was made where Alma reprised her role as Holly and I couldn't believe it...she's probably a size 14 (if that- can't tell from the baggy clothes) and as for myself, I'm a size 12. What's crazier, is that Wendy herself approved the cast for Uncommon Women's original production. So by default she was also ok with Alma's lack of size (which I suppose she's allowed as Alma was playing "her" in the show) Anyway, says something about our society that folks in the 12/14 size range are still considered fat!

Anonymous said...

This was incredibly fun to watch. I was particuarly amazed by so many great performances and have this to say:
The woman who played Samamtha was like a breath of fresh air and I was very impressed with both of the actresses who played the more character type roles of Carter and Susie Friend.
Laura Faye Smith was great. I know many are a fans of her, but I normally don't like her work and I have seen much of it over the years.. but in this show she leaves the bag of tricks at home and is genuine and honest.
Val Landrum is by far one of the strongest young actress this town has to offer. I have seen a lot of her work over the past couple years, including two summers @ JAW/West and am consistently impressed with her incredible range and brutal honesty as a artist.
Julie Akers is to be applauded for this production as well. What a great feeling I had as I left the Theatre, and I certainly didn't expect it; in my opinion this is Wasserstien's weakest script.

Jeanette said...

Hey, Amanda, I'm glad to hear your thoughts on this - and also glad that you didn't think I was referring to your performance, which was very good! I think that says a lot about how socially ingrained the thin=beautiful/confident/appealing link is, regardless of feminist influences. I agree with you wholeheartedly - it's a commentary on our society and the views we collectively hold regarding body size. I'm much larger now, but when I was a size 12 - a perfectly normal size for my frame - there were still random jerks who said things like, "You're pretty, but you have fat thighs." (I think they considered that a compliment...?)
Anyway, I really appreciate your comments! Have a great run!

Eleanor said...

Hey - I never post on this thing, but this show moved me to put hands to keys! I was totally impressed with the acting, the direction, the design...and I laughed my ass off! I kind of had to drag myself to the theatre, thinking "Oh god, her senior thesis (meaning Wendy's)" but I have to say, it turned out to be my favorite of the season (granted, I didn't see American Daughter). Val, Amanda, Cecily, Laura, Brittany and the other gals I don't know - YOU WERE DELIGHTFUL! If I were voting for best ensemble....

Anonymous said...

What a treat! So many different kinds of beauty all on one intimate stage at the same time. One of the many things I liked about this production was the repeated chance to watch a bunch of different characters lisenting at the same time -- each in her distinctive way. The show was not perfect, either in the writing or the performance, but very very good, and the ensemble work terrific. As for the Soden casting issue, I think it's a little beside the point: None of the other actresses were lawyers or financial consultants, or what have you. Amanda is not fat, but she ACTED fat, and did a damn fine job of it.

Dan said...

I think the issue with the fat actor is that there are so few opportunities in this town for "actors of size" that when they come along, it's disheartening to see that they go to an actor who is not really fat but playing it. Sure, a fat actor could easily play a role designed for a person of smaller stature, ordinarily played by a skinny actor, but only the bravest director is willing to do that, and that really rarely, so rarely, happens.

I've been a fat actor up until a few months ago, and I've lost many roles I was so well-qualified for due to my size because I did not fit in with the "aesthetic" of the production or it just was not the right choice for the character because the character naturally needs to be fit and attractive, and so on. So while a director has every right to cast a fit actor and throw them in frumpy clothes to play "fat," it just doesn't seem so fair to the fat actors who fight tooth and nail to get any roles at all. Yes, I'm no longer a fat actor, and many more opportunities have opened themselves to me recently, but I nonetheless can feel for what Jeanette was saying. I'm sure Amanda does a brilliant job, and what actor in their right mind would turn down a role like that when offered regardless of the moral dilema, but still it stings a bit. What can I say, though, at least the director didn't put her in a fat suit. That's just completely insulting.

On a side note off the subject, since I'm moving on very shortly: thank you Miracle Theatre and Portland Actors Ensemble so much for consistently looking past my size and casting me in great roles when others wouldn't. I won't ever forget that, and I will always look fondly on your companies' ability to see more than an actor's size when determining if they are right for the role. Kudos to you!

Jeanette said...

As for the Soden casting issue, I think it's a little beside the point: None of the other actresses were lawyers or financial consultants, or what have you. Amanda is not fat, but she ACTED fat, and did a damn fine job of it.

That is, at best, an unequal comparison - 'acting' a body size is most certainly not the same as playing a character that has a particular profession! Like Dan, I am a trained actor. I have paid my dues and am confident in my abilities, but I have also been passed up for many roles that I am "right" for because the director had a vision that didn't include a large woman in the role. Please understand, I know I would not have been right for this particular role - my point is, it's hard enough when the director only envisions a thin person in a role (casting calls are rampant with requests for "fit, beautiful, slim" women) - but when a role calls for a larger body size and it is ignored or faked, it is most definitely NOT irrelevant to bring it up! (And thank you, Dan, for your eloquent post on the matter.)

The above quote ignores the fact that I, too, found Amanda's performance very good, and that Amanda herself commented on this issue, understanding its relevance. After all, this is a feminist play that deals with feminist issues, and body size is MOST definitely a feminist issue.

Anonymous said...

holly is only supposed to be 20 pounds overweight.

Anonymous said...

While this wasn't a show where I wanted to scream I WANT MY TWO HOURS BACK, I said it in a normal inside voice. I did not enjoy it. The script is clearly a thesis project, with every woman having her monologue, and a college students idea of what cool female friendships are. I thought the acting was OK, but Laura Faye and Samantha were the only women who I would say shined - they were absolutely, truthfully grounded in their characters. When I saw it, there was a lot of "acting" - an example being actors fake "listening" by watching whoever was speaking and then looking at each other with fake smiles and nodding their head like "yes, that's funny", or "i agree". These are all talented, able women, so I can only guess the director let them get away with that. Most frustrating to me is Val Landrum, who had what I think would be the juiciest role of Rita, but talk about a bag of tricks! This was practically the same character she had in Thugs, and the performance I saw was totally unconnected and tricky and stereotypically "trashy" "brassy" "cheap". She is talented, able, smart, and funny, and I can't wait to see her have a grounded, connected, deep, inspired realization of a performance. But this wasn't it. And yes, I am chicken enough to post something like this anonymously.