“This is not your father’s burlesque show,” intones host Atlanta Georgia (Marlena Kalm) to the assemblage who stare at the three preening women who are outfitted in sky-high heels, racy bodices and flirty skirts of the schoolgirl-gone-bad-kilt and tutu variety. With glittery winks and flicking hips these three women ooze dangerous sex appeal and edgy one-liners (I’m like a happy meal … I come with toys). They are daring and flirty and dirty and in control – demanding that the squeamish leave the building so that they can get on with the show. “We know how you like it …” they taunt, “And we know why you keep it a secret from Wifey.”
Welcome to Daughters of Lot (written by Alexis Roblan and directed by Rachel Kerry) where the Bible Belt meets the Garter Belt, where Feminism has as many meanings as Eskimos have words for snow and where women run the gamut from young and innocent to young and jaded. If you’re looking for a man here you’ll find him only when he’s being channelled by one of the women, when he’s being serviced (unseen) by one of his daughters backstage, or when you look to your left at the guy sitting next to you.
As Atlanta plays ringmaster to One (Stav Meishar) and Two (Caitlin Mehner) the three women proudly bring forth a daring exhibit: the real daughters of Lot who arrive like relics, wrapped in artifacts, inside big dresses but they are nonetheless excited to be there once they get over the rift in the fabric of time.
There’s a lot going on here so let me boil it down to the most important take-aways. Three narratives are presented and intertwined but they all deal with one theme and all weigh the same issues to see how the scales balance: is Woman a victim or is she the victor? (It should be noted that “Atlanta” means “balance”.)
Story one is the very constructs of the play: burlesque and all its forms – from the theatrical to the modest and reserved. Regardless of attire a woman teases and beguiles — offers up her most private moves and rituals for an audience. By doing so has she conquered them? Or is she theirs to use up and toss aside? Second story: The actual story of Lot’s daughters. There has always been some debate as to who did what to whom after they fled Sodom & Gomorrah. Mother, turned to salt, could no longer service their father. Did the daughters take it upon themselves to “know” their father … to save the human race? Or did the father simply continue a practice he’d started long before they fled? Then there’s the third story of Atalanta (or Atlanta – there are 2 versions which are told to the daughters of Lot). The story is basically one of a young maiden who is not interested in marriage and plays at being a boy to get away from her suitors. A race is held – the winner will get her hand. She enters the race herself hoping to claim herself at the end, only to get distracted by some apples (maaaaagic apples). Long story short, in the end she marries the guy who won the race. Happy ending? That’s a matter of perspective. In fact – it’s all a matter of perspective. Which is the one big theme: victim or victor?
Throughout the hour Daughter 1 (Naomi Bland) and Daughter 2 (Rebecca Gray Davis) play the straight man, as it were, and allow Atlanta and crew to zip them (and us) through a cliff notes version of what it feels like for a girl, always driving home the point of balance. Bland and Davis do a wonderful job at convincingly portraying newly-hatched women who are window shopping in the Mall of Female Stereotypes where each conceivable brand of woman is, in turn, either celebrated or bashed. However, no matter what lessons Atlanta and her One and Two can provide for the Daughters the story of Lot must play out as it should. While the idea of who the aggressor is - at least from this tale’s context – seems fixed, the question of their perspective having been polluted becomes a weightier question thanks to the new stories that have been interwoven with theirs.
This play was originally longer and cut to fit FRIGID’s 1 hour time-frame, which I knew going in. I’m not sure that Daughters of Lot works best as a one hour show; possibly making it even a bit shorter might have worked, though when taking out important moments it’s difficult to know which will resonate with the audience and which won’t – and ultimately you want to leave the audience with a thoughtful piece of theatre, not a hacked-up poetry reading, so it’s impossible for me to say what- other than the original format -would best serve this play. I would very much enjoy seeing the full, uncut version in order to experience the original pacing and impact.
When these women announce at the top of the show that this is not your father’s burlesque show – and not for the squeamish – they’re correct. I doubt there was a man in the audience who expected to be challenged so directly by women wearing so little. I could tell it made some of them uncomfortable. Frankly, this story should have made people uncomfortable starting a long time ago. Go back and read the original if you need a refresher and then go see Daughters of Lot for a new perspective.
~~~Daughters of Lot Company: Brain Melt Consortium Directed by: Rachel Kerry Molly Ballerstein Feb 25, 5:30PM Feb 28, 9:00PM Mar 02, 5:30PM Mar 04, 4:00PM $15.00 The Kraine Theater
The 2012 FRIGID NEW YORK FESTIVAL will run February 22-March 4 at The Kraine Theater & The Red Room (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Ave and Bowery) and UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1st Ave and Ave A). Tickets to all shows may be purchased online at www.FRIGIDnewyork.info or by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444.