Scotland Week @ 59E59 Theaters
A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity and Clean, a double bill from Scotland makes US premiere.
By: Patrick Christiano
A double bill of two new short plays from Scotland’s renowned Traverse Theatre, A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity by Douglas Maxwell and Clean by Sabrina Mahfouz , celebrate brazen women in Orla O’Loughlin’s stylized productions of the clever, yet slight little gems at 59E59 Theaters.
In A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity, Annabelle (Joanna Tope), mourning her husband’s death, strikes up an unlikely friendship with his foul-mouthed employee, Jim Dick (Gavin Jon Wright), also a man much younger than her. Titillated by Jim’s crude way of expressing himself, Annabelle struggles to discover her own voice weaving his inappropriate explicatively vulgar words into her conversation. The evening is a witty riff on language and class as Jim’s gutter mouth influences Annabelle into a comic release of her pent up emotions. Gavin Jon Wright is wonderfully authentic and colorful as Jim Dick, however, Joanna Tope’s Annabelle is in her own little world instead of truly being affected by Jim. As a result the potential for hysterical moments pass us by and the effect is only mildly amusing instead.
Poet Sabrina Mahfouz’s smart, clever and fast paced Clean introduces us to the adrenaline spiked world of London’s foremost female underground criminals just as they are about to take on their biggest job yet. Zainab (Emma Dennis-Edwards), Chloe (Jade Anouka), and Katya (Chloe Massey) are three fast-talking, no-nonsense bad girls. These new heroines are three tough cookies ready to make their mark. Armed with funny sparkling dialogue by the gifted poet/playwright the three are a hipper, edger version of the iconic television crime fighters "Charlie’s Angels," a hit US television show from the 1980’s. The direction forces the gifted actresses to fall into slick rushed rap rhythms that although forceful lack dramatic impact.
The design team includes Patrick McGurn (sets); Claire Elliot (lighting); Tom Saunders and Kevin McCallum for (sound for CLEAN); and Tom Saunders, Camilla O’ Neill and Kevin McCallum (sound for A RESPECTABLE WIDOW..)
Maxwell’s plays have been done all over the world, and he is one of the most performed playwrights in Scotland for the past decade. A Respectable Widow Takes To Vulgarity, his most recent play, was first performed in Oran Mor in Glasgow to standing room only audiences and subsequently transferred to The Traverse for another sold-out run during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013, garnering a nomination for Best Play at the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland.
His previous work includes The Promise, which played at 59E59 in 2011, winning Joanna Tope a nomination for a Drama Desk Award.
To purchase tickets, call (212) 279-4200 or visit www.59e59.org. The performance schedule at 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street between Park and Madison Avenues, is Tuesday – Thursday at 7:15 PM; Friday at 8:15 PM; Saturday at 2:15 PM and 8:15 PM; and Sunday at 3:15 PM and 7:15 PM.