Queen of Sock Pairing pushes boundaries | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Queen of Sock Pairing pushes boundaries

Red Tape Theatre's production traces a woman's empowerment through role-playing.

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With ambitious productions that push the boundaries of subject matter, Red Tape Theatre continues to evolve, and its latest, Queen of Sock Pairing by Sophie Weisskoff, directed by Zach Weinberg, is one of the company's best yet. The story opens with Celia navigating relationships with her boss, Joan, mother of Walden, the boy she cares for, as well as Cai, her older boyfriend. Joan, Cai, and Walden speak for themselves, but a Narrator communicates Celia's first lines and feelings. Celia's first spoken words, "I'm sorry," reflect her disempowerment at work and with Cai.

Celia starts to see beyond her preferred "sub" role to Cai's "Dom," using play to explore their various proclivities. The show is full of profanity, BDSM, and fun-bordering-on-abusive role-playing—at one point, even composting is used as a sexual metaphor. Weisskoff succeeds at balancing the difficult moments—the gaslighting, misogyny, and emotional abuse—with moments of humor. For example, Walden (Scot West, who also plays Walden's father) is wonderfully portrayed as a sock puppet. The Narrator (Jalyn Greene) acts as a buffer, validating Celia's response and shielding her, as well as the audience, from the line of fire.

Elena Victoria Feliz is magnetic as Celia, at once vulnerable and resilient in her journey to empowerment. She's a delight to watch, emoting so much with just a look. Brenda Scott Wlazlo (Joan) oozes with self-important status while sporting a humorous Ivy League accent. Aaron Latterell is terrifyingly good as Cai, whose sadism violates agreed-upon boundaries. Submit to the Queen of Sock Pairing!  v

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