Sunday, October 16, 2011

Women's Theatre Project: Women Drivers (4 Reviews)

The Women's Theatre Project opened its production of Women Drivers on  October 14, 2011.
From the Carbonell and Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright of Speaking Elephant, comes a comedy about women and driving.  Driving instructor Erin Ford say, "Other students take a test.  Mine go play in the street".  While comically balancing the rules of the road, the hair-raising mistakes of her students and their competing overlapping conversations, Erin is aware that what she teaches is life and death - and not just metaphorically.
Genie Croft directed a cast that included Pilar Uribe, Miki Edelman, Jana Tift, Jacqueline Laggy, Lela Elam, and Nikki Bromberg.

Fashion Editor Rod Stafford Hagwood flubs another review for the Sun-Sentinel:
Resist rolling your eyes as the cast of "Women Drivers" wheels around the set in office chairs, miming as if they're driving cars.

Bite your tongue before wondering out loud, "Are we there yet?"

Hold on. This comedy takes a little bit to rev up.
Someone really needs to tell Rod that this habit of starting out with widely spaced sentence fragments is neither compelling nor clever.  Are there any actual editors left at the "Stunned-Senseless?" 
Once director Genie Croft and the six actresses establish the gimmicky framework for the story -- 15 short vignettes with titles such as "caution," "detour" and "yield" -- then you can more or less settle back and enjoy the ride of this world premiere at The Women's Theatre Project.
Cloyingly manipulative but solidly sold by the cast... playwright and director set up the chess pieces so nobly and earnestly that you began to wonder if this is just a giggly Sunday drive … or are we actually going somewhere?

We are. And you'll see it coming a mile away. In the meantime, Lawrence has some clever lines, many of them with the ring of truth
Jeebus.  You would not believe how much vapid prose shit mindless drivel utter crap I had to trim to leave something actually useful.  Reading a Hagwood review is kind of like getting drunk on cough syrup; cloying, disorienting, with a hell of a hangover later.  I am actually looking forward to the day the Sentinel goes belly-up.

Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artizine:
The stereotypical image of women drivers, mostly among Neanderthal males, I would guess, is that they're a joke.  So being a bit of a pinhead I thought I'd Google jokes about women drivers.  And guess what?  There aren't very many and certainly not any funny ones.  But that being said, there is some funny stuff in Terry Lawrence's Women Drivers, receiving its world premiere at The Women's Theatre Project up in Fort Lauderdale.
The problem with Women Drivers lies mostly in the writing.  There is no real pressure on the characters, no sense of urgency in their various predicaments.  It's not the fault of the actors; they do what they can.  But the end result is a not very entertaining, repetitious evening.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
The virtues of Women Drivers are quiet ones that elicit chuckles at recognizable situations and smiles at reaffirmed values. It’s so restrained and its goals are so modest that it’s not a thoroughly satisfying meal so much as a pleasant snack.
Lawrence (who wrote the successful Speaking Elephant for the same troupe) has a genuine talent for finding metaphors. Unfortunately, she slathers them on until they seem like the only tool in her chest. They are omnipresent. Some are spoken aloud in deft speeches. Some are layered into the action and theme.
She can even poke fun at her own obsession with metaphors. For instance, most characters share names with cars such as the instructor Erin Ford and clients Shelby Hall, Skylark, and Grace Goodyear.

At one point, Erin says, “I’ve been stalled out, spinning my wheels and going nowhere. Maybe it’s a sign I have to get moving again, get my life in gear.” To which Grace articulates what we were thinking: “Is it all driving metaphors with you?”
The performers are all competent if not astonishing, and Uribe particularly is pleasant and compelling company.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
As she demonstrated in Speaking Elephant, Terry Lawrence is an imaginative playwright who can craft drama from resonant relationships. That touching, funny 2009 script about a pair of female elephants at the Detroit Zoo got an admirable first production at the Women’s Theatre Project. And now another Lawrence play, Women Drivers, is getting its world premiere at the intimate Fort Lauderdale theater, with much less impressive results.
As Women Drivers navigates through its 15 short scenes, Lawrence paints a bigger picture, one that eventually transcends the structure of Erin interacting with individual students. But getting to the end of that road is an often bumpy journey over terrain pockmarked by a gimmick and improbabilities in both plot and character. Director Genie Croft and her able cast try to gloss over those flaws with committed performances, the actors rolling around the small playing area on office chairs, pretending they’re in cars, miming the fastening of seatbelts and adjustment of mirrors. But no amount of let’s-pretend makes up for the weaknesses in the script.
Uribe moves through the play as its focused, if occasionally rattled, center. Edelman gets to demonstrate her versatility by creating two totally different women, the mom and a moving elderly student named Mrs. Rumsey. Jacqueline Laggy makes a clearly unhinged student named Della Driver (yes, Driver) interesting to watch. Tift’s Shelby, initially subdued, then nervous, becomes truly moving in the play’s most dramatic moment. And Elam, who also plays a vibrant young student named Michelle, becomes the production’s comedic salvation.
The Women's Theatre Project  presents Women Drivers at Sixth Star Studios through November 6, 2011.

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