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Necessary Targets

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NECESSARY TARGETS, Apple Tree Theatre. Eve Ensler's 2002 follow-up to her hit The Vagina Monologues is a disappointing mishmash of docudrama and Lifetime Television cliches--a work with its heart in the right place and its head nowhere. Based on the testimony of Bosnian women in refugee camps, the play unfortunately explores their situation primarily through the clash of two privileged American women acting as crisis counselors: J.S. (Peggy Roeder) is a Park Avenue psychiatrist new to the horrors of war, and Melissa (Ana Sferruzza) is a sort of atrocity buff globe-trotting in pursuit of stories for a forthcoming book.

Ensler exoticizes the refugees and trivializes their pain--we get the comical peasant woman, the borderline schizophrenic child-woman, the sex-obsessed middle-aged wife, etc. The play uses the "music will bond us" trope twice, to negative effect. The first time, Melissa puts on "Roam" by the B-52's and bops around with Nuna (Paula Stevens, decked out like a refugee raver), a girl who of course will not be roaming anywhere anytime soon. The second time, while Bosnian folk music plays, the vodka comes out, the tongues loosen, and everyone gets her chance in the unspeakable-horrors spotlight.

Jessica Boevers's direction is solid, and Roeder and Paula Scrofano as a well-educated, suspicious refugee deliver subtle performances. But with her trademark finger-wagging naivete, Ensler succeeds only in pointing out the tragically obvious: that war is hell, particularly on women and children.

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