Performances transcend a disjointed narrative in She Creatures at Nouveau 47
Nouveau 47 Theatre and its East Dallas neighbor, Ochre House Theater, have opened up new worlds for local theater audiences, with premieres of new work at intimate houses. These companies offer fresh language, exciting narratives and an avant garde approach to storytelling. Polish doesn’t get much play east of I-30, as theaters tend to stage unfinished, gritty fare.
The rising popularity of these theaters seems to imply a desire for theatrical coarseness, that perhaps the act of creation is as important as the end product. The bare bones Ochre House shows consistently earn awards, and Nouveau’s On the Eve topped every critic’s best of 2012 list.
It is this zeitgeist that allows Nouveau’s newest production, She Creatures, to keep its head above water in spite of a script teeming with redundant monologues. Seeing new work is just pretty damn cool.
The real magic lies in the incredible performances by the four women in this play. Ben Bryant, as the only male in the cast, holds his own alongside the powerful female leads.
Sarah Saltwick’s play opens with the Greek character of Pandora bursting from her earthen mold to live as the first human female. She is clearly meant to be the thread weaving the other characters together; she remains onstage for the entirety of the 90-minute play.
She looks on as the Little Mermaid learns to walk, watches a young unicorn grow up, and overhears a painful conversation between Medusa and a friend. Pandora’s mere presence offers the only tangible component to the underlying notion that these women are connected in a way as magical as the myths themselves.
The real magic lies in the incredible performances by the four women in this play. Hilary Couch plays only the role of Pandora, but the other three women — Ginger Goldman, Danielle Pickard and Sherry Hopkins — slip from one character into another. Ben Bryant, as the only male in the cast, holds his own alongside the powerful female leads.
Although the play comprises mostly navel-gazing monologues, the occasional interplay between the women produces some of the more moving scenes. One moment Goldman is warmly warning Pickard about the dangers of the teenage unicorn’s desire to chase the moon; a moment later, Pickard is venturing into Medusa’s lair to seek out her old friend. Each interaction is rich with insight about the feminine psyche.
Nouveau artistic director Tom Parr IV overcomes the show’s disjointed narrative by pulling out the universality of the stories and elegant language. The women take full advantage of Scott Osborne’s magnificent set, crawling up the ramp and bursting from the ground.
The production bears evidence of an innovative, collaborative process — a process that may hold more value for today’s theatergoers than an impeccably rendered performance or artificially coherent plot.