nytheatre.com review by Jo Ann Rosen
May 19, 2010
Marisa Wegrzyn pushes past greed, manipulation, dishonesty, fraud, malfeasance, and hypocrisy—words that define the past decade in corporate America—and heads straight for transparency: killing for sport. Killing Women, with its quirky script, stellar cast, and crisp direction, is a pretty darn funny perspective on the corporate world.
Think Charlie's Angels after they've learned a thing or two. The play follows Abby, a tough, foul-mouthed brunette passed over for promotion by lesser-skilled Wyatt. Ramone, the head honcho, wants Abby to kill Gwen, a modest, ditzy mother, because Gwen killed her unfaithful husband Baxter, an employee of Ramone's. Abby negotiates a deal: she'll train Gwen in one week so Gwen can replace Baxter. But Ramone insists if she fails, Abby must kill both Gwen and her daughter. To add intrigue, there are two co-workers: a luscious blonde, Lucy, and a clueless romantic named Mike. There is also a series of outsiders: Joe, Johnny, and Cooper.
There is little time to ponder the ludicrous plot. Wegrzyn pushes her characters out of the gate faster than the horses at the Kentucky Derby. Her dialogue is crisp and funny, and it is easy to stick with all the characters on their personal quests. Adam Fitzgerald directs with finesse. Timing is everything in this screwball comedy, and the six cast members, some doing double duty, never miss a beat. Only the ending felt a little soft, but that Wegrzyn found an ending at all is admirable.
Lori Prince is commanding as Abby. She curses like she was born to it, and convincing—you wouldn't want to bump into her in a crowded subway. Lisa Brescia counters beautifully as the tall, suave Lucy, whose confidence lulls Abby into a vulnerable spot. Autumn Hulbert gives Gwen an outsider's perspective to this crazy business, and the character's resistance to Abby's plan raises the tension and the stakes. Brian Dykstra makes a brief appearance as Baxter and then eases into the role of Ramone, the affable boss who enjoys dishing out difficult assignments. Michael Puzzo brings endearing, goofy qualities to Mike and lends the play humanity, while Adam Kantor adds dimension in three roles: Joe, Lucy's love interest; Johnny, Gwen's creepy stalker; and Cooper, Abby's neighbor.
The design team, like the play, provides unexpected delights. The modern, geometric set, by Joel Sherry, is graphically pleasing to the eye. Subtle details, like small broken windows, and spurts of color when modules are moved add liveliness to an already quick pace. Lisa Zinni's costumes are spot-on, with Lucy's blue dress adding an unexpected treat when she turns toward the audience. Christopher J. Bailey created appealing lighting and sound.
The title, Killing Women, sounds deadly; but when you realize that the word "killing" is an adjective and not a verb, you begin to get a sense of the fun that's in store in this 90-minute play. It's not big theatre. Not particularly important either. But it is comedy done very well.