The Oblivion Series: A (Not So) Girlie Show doesn't deliver
By Justine Warrington. Directed by Linda Darlow. Presented by WaWaYa Productions. At Studio 1398 on Thursday, September 19. Continues until September 29
Dear Lord, please help me find a way to soften this review. Nothing? Okay. This show sucks.
In The Oblivion Series: A (Not So) Girlie Show, which runs less than an hour, writer Justine Warrington offers 15 short monologues, poems, and songs. She takes a scattergun approach to politics in general and issues of feminism and female sexuality somewhat more specifically.
The first piece, “Recruitment (We Need You!)”, sets the bar low. In this monologue, Warrington plays a ditsy recruiting officer who’s trying to rally folks to save the world. The invitation to audience participation is so annoyingly fake—she pretends to select two audience members to start a revolution, but clearly doesn’t want any real interaction—that I was sorely tempted to call her bluff and volunteer.
The recruiter cites all sorts of issues—war, hunger, dependence on oil—and the intro evokes images of Tiananmen Square and displaced indigenous Amazonians committing suicide, but Warrington doesn’t examine any of them. Instead, she trivializes them, making them fodder in a shallow and disempowering statement about how impossible it is to get a handle on global politics. And she does so while bouncing around, showing off her frilly pink panties.
As a writer and performer, Warrington is big on playing the bimbo, but because she does so with insufficient wit and insight, her efforts fall flat. In “Viral”, which is also a monologue, she becomes a narcissistic actress-cum-video-blogger who has “sucked a lot of virtual cock” to achieve miniuscule celebrity. Okay, she’s making a statement about technological alienation, but that statement is obvious and the crudeness of Warrington’s presentation overwhelms it. To embody the blogger, she adopts the same valley-girl delivery we’ve heard a million times and spews it out at the top of her lungs while pretending to fellate her video camera.
To be fair, Warrington lands, briefly, as a performer late in the evening. In “Mistake”, she plays a woman who has screwed up a personal relationship, and she cries affecting tears.
Oblivion’s other two performers also have their moments. Actor Lori Watt and director Linda Darlow do a fine job of shaping “Prayer”, in which a frustrated supplicant struggles with her emotions. And Alison Araya consistently delivers, moving her arms like a flamenco dancer while enunciating the sensuous poem “Hot Orange”, and expertly playing the conflicting rage and denial in “Stand Up”. The best-written piece of the lot, “Stand Up” decries Roman Polanski’s sexual use of an underage girl.
If only the rest of the evening had that focus and weight. But it doesn’t.