Ladies Unpacks 18th Century Femininity at Boston Court.

Leigh Kennicott Reviews - Theater
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I was looking forward to seeing Ladies, as I had attended the curated evening of letters that introduced these fascinating 18th Century “Bluestockings” to the audience a few weeks before. The production itself proved to be partially chamber drama and part-one woman show featuring the playwright, Kit Steinkellner.  For me, it was a clear case of “too many cooks.”  What may have begun as an investigation of proto-feminism, as playwright Steinkellner put it, thus became a bit of a mish-mash.

There were plenty of thought-provoking moments, though. Although there is little in the way of linear narrative, the four actresses – Meghan Andres, Carie Kawa, Jully Lee and Tracey A. Leigh – do a wonderful job bringing their respective women to life.  Their accents, coached by Nike Doukas, are fine.  Steinkellner has condensed 100 years of activism into illustrative lives of four women, yet worries her subjects into subjective moments that seemed to go with her own interpretation of (that word again) proto-feminism. That’s not to say that speculations about the sexual tribulations of these women were not informative. But rather than individualized, they seem meant to illustrate scholarly feminist generalizations about the sex lives of women in that period.

And then there is Steinkellner’s own hand-wringing with which to contend. In my view, the attempt to portray her own doubts and fears in an attempt to contextualize her play decentralizes the women themselves as subjects.

In states of dress and undress, one of the features of director Jessica Kubzansky’s sparse production designed by Sara Ryung Clement and costumed by Ann Closs-Farley, the ladies don hoops and paniers, then knee breeches, and finally to  LA chic. Unique compositions by Nihan Yesil compliment the production.  Lighting by Jaymi Lee Smith and all-important properties by Courtney Lynne Dusenberry complete always top-notch production values at Boston Court.

Ladies runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m through June 30th, 2019. Theatre @ Boston Court is located at 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena 91106. Special $5.00 Community Matinee performance on Saturday, June 8 at 2PM; additional performance on Monday, June 17 at 8PM. Tickets are $39.00; $34.00 for seniors.  Phone 626-683-6801 or www.bostoncourtpasadena.org.