Woman Alive: A Mockudrama | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Woman Alive: A Mockudrama

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Woman Alive: A Mockudrama, Nomenil Theatre Company, at SweetCorn Playhouse. Imagine a women's empowerment film made around 1972 featuring actors trained on The Brady Bunch. With this production Nomenil lives up to its reputation for serving strange fare: farcical ham rolled up in disturbing, stinky cheese that leaves people wondering an hour later what the hell they ate.

It would be nice to believe that women like these never existed, even in the 70s: the housewife who drives herself to Valium trying to please everyone; the high school beauty who marries money and morphs into a fat, vapid garden-club hostess; the polyester-clad mother who anguishes over the impact of her part-time job on dinner preparation. It would also be nice to say that such women should be treated with kindness and understanding. However, if compassion were the rule, there would be no comedy. Playwright Allen Conkle shows no mercy, skewering these prelib types and the self-help books that catered to them. Courtney Evans, Debi Bradshaw, and femme fatale Bill Drew--terribly sincere in their angst--make it very easy to laugh at the women's pain.

The concept, characters, and execution are delicious. At just over an hour, though, Woman Alive could be developed into more substantial satire. Nomenil has publicized its ability to leave audiences bewildered. But sometimes people react that way because not enough has happened. Consider this show an appetizer, best enjoyed after a few rounds of cocktails. --Kim Wilson

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