Tuesday, August 24, 2010

FRINGE: The Secretaries

At one point in the Five Lesbian Brothers' 1993 play, The Secretaries, the depressed former-secretary-of-the-month Ashley (Karen Stanion) starts chugging printer toner, the frustratingly-still-overweight Peaches (Elizabeth A. Bell) gives in to her cravings and devours some solid food, and the normally relaxed and openly gay Dawn (Virginia Baeta) starts smashing at her frozen computer--it's that time of the month. Or so you think: rather, this comic exaggeration is about women who refuse to fit in--especially to the prim secretarial roles they've been assigned to at the Cooney Lumber Company in Big Bone, Oregon: "And once a month we kill a man and chop him up." But don't be fooled by the camp: "We don't kill them because they're bad," announces their boss, Susan (Jamie Heinlein), to their new recruit, innocent Patty (Elizabeth Whitney). "We kill them because we're bad." The show is actually an attack on anything remotely ordinary or normalizing, from Slim-Fast shakes to expense accounts to Feminism itself. Mark Finley's direction isn't primal enough for this sort of rebel yell, especially since the dated comedy is no longer shocking in of itself, but the show is still fairly funny, and the cast--if it's not offensive to say so--is darling. On a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being "Find a new vocation," and 5 being "There's a new executive in town," The Secretaries gets a 3.5.

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