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A CurtainUp Review
Untitled Feminist Show

“Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala. . . .”— Regina Rocke
Untitled Feminist Show
Young Jean Lee’s Untitled Feminist Show begins with each of its six nude female performers walking slowly down the aisles of the Baryshnikov Art Center’s Jerome Robbins Theater, past the craning audience, and exhaling heavily. While the performers include cabaret, burlesque, and theater stars, none here wear any makeup. They range in size from the thin and nimble to voluptuous and curvy. All, we soon discover, are perfectly at home in their bodies. Despite credit in the program to a costume consultant, the performers remain nude for 99% of the show.

The one-hour performance is broken up into segments —really allegorical or mythical vignettes— each of which features some form of dance, and with music ranging from classical to hip hop to heavy metal. Despite the fact that Ms. Lee is known as a playwright, there are hardly any words in Untitled Feminist Show.

Ms. Lee stated in a recent interview with Time Out New York that, as the work took shape, words seemed extraneous and were dispensed with by committee. Her vignettes deal with different aspects of female identity: in one segment, women are cooking and in another one, Amelia Zirin-Brown, a/k/a “Lady Rizo” of downtown cabaret fame, wordlessly “propositions” male audience members by simulating various sex acts. In yet another, Regina Rocke simply sings “Lalalalala” over and over again, as one might in the shower, hopelessly off key, as she delights in dance and sound. She’s nearly perfect in her imperfection.

Perhaps the most arresting piece is one of rage, where two of the performers attack each other, while the other four watch. All of them, including the combatants, move in exaggeratedly slow motion, so that you can almost see emotions form. The background music lifts the riff of the song “Wild Thing.”

It’s difficult to speculate on the meaning of Untitled Feminist Show. Its (non) title clues us into the fact that Ms. Lee is actively resisting interpretation. She states that the show is meant to suggest and inspire “a more changeable and fluid relationship to gender.” I'm not sure that such heady ambitions were actually accomplished with this work. You may have your own thoughts on what it all means, but I wouldn’t trust them.

At its heart, Untitled Feminist Show introduces us to six women, proud of their bodies and reveling in whatever form their female lives, identities, and destinies happen to take. The show’s chief accomplishment, in my mind, was to steal away any body shame or embarrassment, either on the part of the performers or the audience. After a while their nakedness seemed natural enough that it was almost jarring to see them fully clothed in the final segment, greeting the cheering and, for Lee, the hopefully inspired audience.

Untitled Feminist Show
By Young Jean Lee
Directed by Young Jean Lee
Associate Directors: Kate Gagnon and Rachel Karp
Cast: Becca Blackwell, The World Famous *BOB*, Amelia Zirin-Brown (aka Lady Rizo), Hilary Clark, Katy Pyle, Regina Rocke
Set Design: David Evans Morris
Assistant Set Design: Kate Foster
Choreography: Faye Driscoll, Morgan Gould, and Young Jean Lee, in collaboration with the performers
Director of Choreography: Faye Driscoll
Associate Director: Morgan Gould
Producer: Aaron Rosenblum
Dramaturg: Mike Farry
Production Supervisor: Sunny Stapleton
Costume Consultant: Roxana Ramseur
Lighting Design: Raquel Davis
Associate Lighting Design: Ryan Seelig
Associate Video Design: Bart Cortright
Sound Design: Chris Giarmo and Jamie McElhinney
Sound Consultant: Jill DuBoff
Projection Design: Leah Gelpe
Set Construction: Maia Robbins-Zust
Assistant Stage Manager: Neelam Vaswani
Understudies: Emily Gleeson, Karen Sherman
Artistic Intern: Adam Blodgett
Production Assistants: Diane Anderson, Sarah Blush, Kimberly Foskett, Scotty Reynolds, Ronan Babbit, Melanie Jones, and Sanaz Gjajarahimi
Running Time: One hour, no intermission
Baryshnikov Arts Center, 450 W. 37th Street, NYC 10018,
From Jan. 10; Closing Feb. 4; opening Jan. 14
Performance schedule Jan. 12 @ 8:30 p.m., Jan. 13-15, 18-21, 24-28, 31, Feb. 1-4 @ 8 p.m.
Reviewed by William Coyle, based on Jan. 19 performance
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