Sodomy %amp; Pedicures
nytheatre.com review by Isaac Byrne
August 15, 2007
What do you do if you were raised by a strict feminist, Irish Catholic mother and a Bible Belt card-carrying Communist father and you find yourself having very unprogressive, politically incorrect sexual fantasies about being dominated and worshipped? That's the question at the heart of Jessica Hedrick's funny, entertaining, and often surprising one woman show, Sodomy & Pedicures.
Seconds after the lights have come up, Hedrick tells us that a date with a large, brutish Italian man who wanted to sodomize her actually really turned her on—much to her chagrin. As she tries to reason out why this would be so sexually exciting to her—someone steeped in fervently feminist and liberated politics—she tells us about her relationship with her idealistic parents, her skewered childhood, her slutty friends, her past relationships, her fear of pedicures, her first masturbation, and how she finally arrived at, what else, a little self-realization.
The show has the easy feel of a conversation over drinks with a friend who always has great stories to tell you about her romantic misadventures. This is an impressive testament to Hedrick's storytelling ability and her talent for slipping in and out of different characters without ever feeling forced or like she's really doing all the work that she's doing onstage. She keeps her characters natural and emotionally real, avoiding the exaggerated caricatures that often plague one-person shows. Her comic timing is quiet and rapid fire, hitting the mark quickly and briskly moving on to the next target.
The direction by Julia M. Smith is crisp and light. Despite the fast pace of the show and the varied approaches Hedrick's storytelling takes, the show flows smoothly and never feels choppy, heavy handed, or overly staged. Smith also gets quite a bit of mileage out of the few sound cues used in the show. The uncredited sound design is sparse but effective, and the song used at the climax is both an unexpected and dead-on choice.
The show steers clear of a lot of the typical one-person show clichés, and even as Hedrick arrives at her final realization, the story keeps twisting and surprising. It stays firmly rooted in believability and never strays into melodrama. That makes the show and the risqué material go down easy, but it also plays it a little on the safe side. The laughs keep coming, but, while the story never fails to entertain, it also doesn't have any great peaks or valleys. There's no moment of real shock, tragedy, or victorious catharsis in a story that has the potential for all of the above. Then again, at the end, I didn't feel I needed any of those things. I left with a smile on my face, feeling like I just spent an hour with a good friend telling me an entertaining and frequently hilarious tale of sex, love, and sexual politics.