And She Said, He Said, I Said Yes
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
August 16, 2009
Meet Melissa Joyner, Rory Lipede, and Jehan O. Young. They're young, attractive, smart, and talented, and And She Said, He Said, I Said Yes is a showcase they've devised—abetted by playwright Harrison David Rivers and directors Eric Louie and Anika Chapin—to introduce themselves to audiences and the theatre community. Audiences and theatre makers will do well to take them up on this invitation.
The show begins with a lively give-and-take among the three actresses; they speak to each other and to us and immediately win us over with their confidence, maturity, and considerable charm and presence. After this brief intro, each of the three performs a monologue, about 20 minutes in length. These demonstrate their range and versatility, and give intriguing insight into the lives so-far of these young women. (A program note says, "The monologues you will hear tonight are based on true life stories. Some details have changed and others have not.") The ring of truth—honesty; authenticity—is continually in evidence.
Young, whose solo piece comes first, talks about self-image and self-assurance and the real meaning of love; she's instantly likable and admirable, presenting a persona that's at once vulnerable and fierce and uncompromising and intelligent. Joyner, up next, is tall and elegant and delightfully fresh (just a couple of years out of college); her monologue winds a twisty path to recount the history of a long, fraught, failed love affair. Finally there's Lipede, whose many years studying ballet and working as a principal artist with several ballet companies inform her story of growing up, growing away from family and her unusual childhood, and coping with first love.
The stories they tell are funny and incisive. They could probably all benefit from a bit of pruning here and there, but the actresses are so engaging, sharing these tales and often taking on the personas of many others in them, and our time spent with them is thoroughly enjoyable. I was a little bit sorry that the monologues were all so squarely focused on relationships with men, because these women clearly define themselves in other terms—they're independent, articulate 21st century women who understand where their mothers and grandmothers have been and equally are ready to map out the uncharted territories where they are heading. I'm excited to meet Joyner, Lipede, and Young many more times in the future on stages all around NYC (Young, in fact, is in a second FringeNYC show right now, Tell It To Me Slowly). They're all on the brink of what should be promising careers.