nytheatre.com review by Liz Kimberlin
Femme! is an autobiographical "one-woman show with two
women" now playing at the Kraine Theatre.
August 15, 2003
Certainly Christine Mosere, writer and subject of the piece, is a beautiful, feminine woman with wit, talent, and bubbly charm. Without a doubt, Mosere can be commended for her courage in meeting head-on the booby traps and detours leaping out from the Pandora’s Box that she, by her own admission, has opened for herself. But are courage and choices, even that dramatic, really enough to make good theatre? In the case of Femme!, unfortunately, no.
Femme! is about an actress, wife and mother in New York City who suddenly becomes transfixed with a "butch" (very masculine woman, in this case also lesbian) bartender who wants a puppet to control more than she actually wants a lover. But Mosere wants love and commitment and a world free of repression and lies. Thus her dilemma: she hasn’t told her lover about her husband/she hasn’t told her husband about her lover. But fade out manipulative bartender, fade in wholesome Texas cowboy butch who wants all the same things Mosere wants—only to catch Mosere in her double-life lies.
The story is played out—even described in Mosere’s narration—like a movie treatment, except with a few token theatrical devices thrown in to simulate a sense of stage-worthiness. New York audiences, however, aren’t that easily fooled. And perhaps that was my problem as an audience member and why I so quickly lost patience: went there, saw that, at least a dozen times over. "Out" plays aren’t exactly a new concept around here. Stories of misunderstood, overlooked performing artists in New York City who drown their frustrations in drink and other demons—also been done to death. Had Mosere kept it simple—focusing on her guilt at the mounting deceptions—and let her other issues/proclivities be "supporting characters," I think I might have found Femme! less diffuse and more interesting.
And it’s not to say that Femme! as a stage piece is completely unsalvageable. It’s just going to take a lot of rewrites and, most especially, a more competent stage partner (the "other" woman in the one-woman show) than Mosere performs with in this production. Those elements in place, I can see where Mosere might find a noteworthy niche for Femme! outside of New York City (i.e., college, community, special interest group circuits), where less jaded audiences might find her experiences and insights a revelation.