Monday, May 17, 2010

Killing Women

Photo/Ry Pepper

Things are rough for the steely, all-business Abby (Lori Prince). She's been passed over at work, her current assignment's a killer, and the best her best friend and co-worker Lucy (Lisa Brescia) can comfort her with is this: "You didn't get promoted because you're not a man, and you're ineffective because you're not much of a woman." Oh, the trials and tribulations of the modern working woman. Even more so, perhaps, in the comic world of Marisa Wegrzyn's Killing Women, for Abby happens to be a professional killer, and her "killer" assignment will quickly turn into a "kill her" one if she can't make the self-widowed Gwen (Autumn Hurlbert) do less mothering and far more smothering. The result is surprisingly charming, especially given the hapless performances from Lucy's lovestruck victims ("You gave blood for me!") and the way in which Abby's clumsy associate, Mike (Michael Puzzo), attempts to ask her out. ("What're you doin'?" "Dragging a body." "You wanna get some ice cream?") It's not particularly enlightening, particularly when it comes to the all-business relationships between the women, but it's generally entertaining, and mostly well-directed by Adam Fitzgerald (save for a few upstaged blocking issues).

There's a cheery contradiction to the show, a bright bluntness ("sunshine up the ass"), and it's great to watch Abby attempt to remain professional in the face of Gwen's grating innocence. ("You make me wish I was autistic!" she exclaims, pitting her caustic Lauren Graham attitude against the sunshine and rainbows of, say, Felicia Day.) On the opposite end of the spectrum, Lucy's the Cosmo Assassin cover girl, full of ways to kill--and look good trying. ("No more guns, not for me. The ringing in my ears keeps me up nights and, frankly, I broke a nail pulling the trigger....") As for romance, though there's nothing particularly new about watching blood-soaked people do perfectly normal things, like attend Career Day, it's refreshing to see lines like "I have to shoot a guy now, but I'll be thinking of you" delivered so earnestly.

Unfortunately, every time it comes down to actual business--dealing with their boss Ramone--the show loses the comic wit, plays it far too straight, and gets caught up in rather routine and unconvincing threats. Some of this may be due to Brian Dykstra's monotone attempts to portray an ominously jovial fellow, but more realistically, it's that Wegrzyn's treading such a thin plot that any deviations from the relationships at the core wind up either being cheap distractions or empty scenes. The conclusion could use some work, too: despite Lori Prince's best efforts to show a change in Abby's outlook on life, the role itself hems her into a more-or-less permanently grumpy state, and her final lines are so out of character that the audience forgets to applaud--startled, perhaps, that things simply end so unconvincingly. But, hey: if you came to see Killing Women, and nothing more, you won't be disappointed.

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