Playwright: Liza Lentini, Francesca Peppiatt, Amy Rath, Jolene Turner and Helen London
At: Stockyards Theatre Project at Stage Left, 3408 N. Sheffield
Phone: 773-936-7896; $15
Runs through: Sept. 13
BY MARY SHEN BARNIDGE
The theme for this evening of sketches and one-acts is articulated in its title: the inexorable progress of Time. Or, more specifically, as it applies to women and aging. And the need to laugh at it, since we can't do anything about it. And laugh even harder at our attitudes toward it, because we CAN change those.
Jolene Turner's Thirty Wonderful addresses its topic directly, with a sitcom-cute Cosmo Girl who introduces us to her beaux—aged 19 to 47, respectively—and acquaints us with their faults and virtues. ( Listen close and you'll catch a fleeting reference to Little House On The Prairie. ) Liza Lentini's The Return does so obliquely, its heroine avenging herself, not on the man who jilted her, but on the bride-to-be for whom he did it. And stand-up comedienne Helen London's curtain-raiser lends the familiar melodies a few new grace notes ( e.g., a bra in size '36 long' ) .
Ironically, the most satisfying parts of the evening are the most didactic: Amy Rath's Life Targets is framed in coffee-and-martinis girly-chat ( rather like those of Tribune columnist Mary Schmich ) decrying the current wave of pro-natal propaganda. What rescues the editorializing are the coherent arguments raised by the author in derision of the 'biological clock' mindset, as well as the noticeable lack of smug or mean-spirited defenses for the differing points of view.
Likewise, No Time To Loose, Francesca Peppiatt's three-scene exploration of ageism in show business, premised on an unlikely contractual condition partnering a tuxedo-clad 40-year-old danseuse with a 22-year-old coryphée for a Fred-Astaire/Ginger Rogers-styled dance exhibition. The younger woman is at first hostile to this reminder of what may be her own future, but eventually the two hoofers ( played with infectious charm by Jessica Clark and Peppiatt, herself, with choreography by Lydia Milman ) swing together to the jitterbug rhythms of Dancin' Fool. If the purpose of this Stockyards production is, as it claims, to 'bust out of the stereotypes', its tuneful finale sends us home cheerful and fulfilled.