An adaptation by Jenny Rogers of Maria Irene Fornes's Fefu & Her Friends
Presented by TRICK SADDLE
3LD Art & Technology Center, New York City
What a strange little flight back in time and through the emotional and sexual hang-ups of a group of women! Led by Fefu (short for Stefanie, and played with delightful ambiguity by Lee Eddy), this team of quirky stewardesses creates a 360-degree experience which runs up and down the aisles of their constructed airplane as the audience watches and, at times, engages in mild participatory actions.
The play draws heavily from both Fornes' original material and an array of quotes and speeches lifted from films and other sources, wrapping the events around Eddy's commanding presence while engaging the rest of the crew ensemble in scenes and little dramas.
There is little masculine presence in the production: a brief appearance by the flight's captain (Eric Walton), who drops in just to make us aware of his position, and the more ambiguous, musical appearances of an angel (John Phillip Law). Otherwise, the play is full of women and occupied with exploring their relationships to one another.
The seating arrangement is less than ideal for the bulk of the play, as airplanes weren't really built for theatre viewing. However when the space is split in the latter half of the production and small dramas unfold only a few feet away, the cabins become effective staging areas. The lack of space promotes the intimacy which the topics of discussion - a marriage breaking down, two lovers reuniting - merit.
The latter half of the play also takes on a surreal bent, with hallucinations and storms running rampant as Fefu and Julia (a stewardess who has lost the use of her legs, played by Maria Parra) try to negotiate their relationship amid Fefu's concern for Julia's mental wellbeing - and Fefu's own breakdown.
Overall this is a sensitive and successful production which enfolds its audience into a world where a successful sorority of women can communicate with one another as equals, without catty or bitchy intrusions due to the presence of men. Which isn't to say that the men in the audience will feel excluded - costumer Candace Knox has clothed her cast in uniforms that caught (and held) the eye of more than a few of the guys in the audience, and actresses like Katie Apicella and Jessica Jolly take full advantage of this in their manipulations of the audience.
Blending live performance and new video footage, with performers who are sensitive in their interactions with audience members and push just hard enough to get positive, included reactions, Wickets is an enjoyable two-hour production and well worth the trek down to Rector Street.
Reviewer: Rachel Lynn Brody