Daughters of Lot
nytheatre.com review by Melanie N. Lee
February 25, 2012
Most people know the Genesis 19 story of Abraham’s nephew Lot and the doomed cities Sodom and Gomorrah. But what happened between Lot and his daughters after his wife looked back and became a pillar of salt? This lurid tale gets the burlesque treatment from an all-female cast in Alexis Roblan’s one-act play Daughters of Lot, directed by Rachel Kerry.
Two provocatively-clad modern-day young women, the “Sodomettes,” pose and gyrate on the floor. Their mistress of ceremonies, Atlanta, clad in top hat and fishnets, warns us that “this is not your Daddy’s burlesque—or maybe it is,” and she invites the “squares” to leave. Atlanta, named for the runner Atalanta from Greek mythology, says she never cared for Free to Be You and Me’s feminist retelling of the myth. She and her “Sodomettes” start to reenact the tale of Lot: an angel visits Lot’s house and predicts the wicked cities’ destruction. When the men of Sodom insist that Lot bring out the visitor for, well, sodomy, “righteous” Lot offers the gangbangers his two virgin daughters instead. The angel strikes the would-be assailants blind.
Then Atlanta brings to her stage, across time and space, the two actual daughters of Lot: innocent, vulnerable, traumatized teenagers, horrified by their father’s offer, who have just lost their home, their fiancés, their neighbors, and their mother. Clad in plain ancient Hebraic robes, the girls receive lessons in womanhood and sexuality from the burlesque performers. The younger daughter, who looks 13, is eager, curious, and anxious to embrace men and marriage, while her older sister, 14, is cautious, suspicious, and fiercely protective. You could draw a parallel between Lot and his daughters and Atlanta and her underlings…even as the two Sodomettes rebel, overthrow Atlanta, and take over the show.
Daughters of Lot is full of laughs and offers some insights into the trials of womanhood. The juxtaposition of Lot’s story with the Atalanta myth may illustrate how women are manipulated and cheated—and how women must therefore manipulate and cheat back. One burlesquer puts it: “Even when you win the race, they won’t give you the prize.” So women must find a more seductive, underhanded way to win. The women argue whether or not a man’s heart and his penis are the same thing, and try to find a satisfying definition of feminism. The two innocents eventually soak in these lessons, preparing them for the plot they will soon hatch against their father. As one Sodomette explains, “You thought you and your father were the only people left on earth, didn’t you?” In their minds, Lot’s questionable offer of his daughters to rapists may justify his two children’s eventual abuse of him.
Marlena Kalm is sexy and commanding as the mistress of ceremonies Atlanta. Stav Meishar and Caitlin Mehner entertain as Sodomette One and Two: Meishar also portrays the Angel, a female politician, and a modern-day incestuous man. Naomi Bland aptly portrays the suspicion and caution of Daughter 1, while Rebecca Gray Davis conveys the animated eagerness of the younger Daughter 2.
Jessica Bergstrom’s burlesque costumes are colorful and sexy without being over the top, and the women’s “angst” costumes later on convey the horror of the dangers women face. However, the gray, shapeless costumes of the two Biblical girls are too bland. Lot was rich, and even refugees from a destroyed city would show a remnant of their former wealth in their clothing.
Alexis Roblan’s script has some clever, funny lines, and, as directed by Rachel Kerry, brings on many laughs and provides some insights into the female life and psyche. However, I wanted a little more “oomph”—more dramatic edginess, more depth, something. Daughters of Lot is good and entertaining and worth seeing; with a little more delving, it could say more and pack a more powerful punch.