ensemble theatre · millions of maps productions · Ages 13+ · United States of America

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June 25, 2017 certified reviewer
tagged as: energetic · compelling · relentless

What I liked

I found the physicality particularly compelling. The moments of synchronized movement were really well-conceived.

In addition, the emotional commitment of the actors was superb, and they clearly were able to find both the heartfelt moments of connection between the girls and the humor in their associative play.

What I didn't like

If the performance were to be restaged, one aspect to consider may be the stage elements — the curtained “other room” can, perhaps be developed. When the girls get into the plastic box, it is metaphoric of their confinement but a bit unclear, as they are otherwise able to move about the entire space when doing their dance moves.

My overall impression

“Wigs” is a perfect example of what can be achieved by “intimate theater” which is a hallmark of the LA theatre scene. In a small, 25 seat space, the two actresses Lindsay Beamish and Amanda Vitiello manage to tackle difficult materials while still creating a connection with their audience by fusing an energetic performance style with compelling moments and humor. The play focuses on two young women (or are they girls?) who are apparently locked in a room by a man who remains unseen, behind a curtained structure. The girls pass their time rehearsing dance moves, while trading quotes from commercials and popular culture mostly from the 1980s (“Where’s the Beef?” “ET Phone Home”) The free association and play is stopped only by the building sense of dread as “the man” becomes increasingly hostile to the girls, asking them or sexual favors while role playing different persona, signified by the different wigs they have to put on. The girls’ own sense of reality is diminished by their place-less state, marooned in time, forced to endlessly recite the different texts associated with each of the wigs. Their tedium is broken only by their “dance time,” which the actresses achieve in a physically demanding performance that asks them to synchronize their moves, drawing not only on dance ability but also on movement techniques borne out of theatre methods such as the Viewpoints. This is one of the highlights of the performance, made all the more poignant given that we are witnessing the physically demanding dance moves in a small space in which the audience and performers are mutually ensnared. Finally, an opportunity for escape presents itself, but there comes the twist that “Wigs” presents: can two girls/young women trapped indefinitely find the resources to escape their objectifying reality and find the will needed to break free? That is where Beamish and Vitiello leave us — wondering if it is possible to break through the confines that psychological damage imposes on these girls.

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