Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"The Good Body" - Celebrates Women

Okay, nearly everyone has a bit of belly, whether it's hidden beneath a shirt or not. Go ahead and argue: you saw someone who hasn't any body fat doing an ab roller spot on late, late or early, early television. Point taken without dispute. The rest of us have, bet the house, midsection problems. Eve Ensler, known for breaking barriers with "The Vagina Monologues" and the author of several provocative, searing dramas, garners many a laugh with "The Good Body," continuing at Hartford Stage through Sunday.

Eve (the character does represent Ensler) stands at center stage, lifts her shirt, and bestows a midsection which appears to be gently soft. Not obese, not fat. Actress Brigitte Viellieu-Davis plays the Ensler persona, one who has been haunted, seemingly forever, by the contour of her stomach - which is not board flat.

Three women take on a multitude of individuals as the playwright banters or comments, more seriously, about: weight, body-image, two-person relationships, and various societies. Erica Bradsaw (as Woman 2), is a wholesome, large individual who goes to fat camp. Through Ensler's caustic wit, Bradsaw wonderfully, absolutely, and completely trashes the camp's philosophy/psychology. Bradsaw, who happens to be African-American, demonstrates her mettle with another role as she effectively displays a Yiddisha accent.

Playing Woman 1 is Judith Delgado, a terrific stage actress, who is at her comic best when she embodies a Puerto Rican
woman immersed in therapy. As the play continues, Delgado appears, for a time, to grow physically older. That vignette spins around surgery to tighten the vagina.

Never timid, Ensler explores: thighs which spread, life and times with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and so on.

"The Good Body" isn't a stunning, shattering ninety minutes of theater. But, it works. Translation: the playwright balances humor with introspection when it comes to perceptions women possess about their bodies. It's pretty funny and also, beyond the surface jokes, rich in theme and implication.

Tracy Brigden directs with specificity and the three actors are versatile and talented. Hence, as the figurative sphere is tossed from one woman to the next, "The Good Body" evolves smoothly.

I saw the show on a weekday evening. The audience was comprised, to large measure, of women. Watching their reactions spoke positive volumes for Ensler and her affecting play.


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