Theater Review: FEFU AND HER FRIENDS (Odyssey Theatre Ensemble in West L.A.)

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by Joan Alperin on August 25, 2019

in Theater-Los Angeles

FRIENDLY FEMINIST FIRE

Fefu and Her Friends is one of the most famous plays by the recently deceased feminist avant-garde playwright María Irene Fornés, a Cuban American who has won nine Obie Awards including the award for sustained achievement. After seeing this production directed by Denise Blasor, I understand why. Fornés brilliantly captures the time period using music, art, politics, wardrobe and dialogue.

The abstract play about women, written in 1977, takes place in 1935 when eight women meet at the house of the main character, Fefu, an extremely intelligent and highly eccentric woman. As the play unfolds we are exposed to these women’s struggles, fears, and conflicts as they attempt to survive in a male-dominated world.

The format itself is groundbreaking. The play is divided into three parts. The first part takes place in the living room of Fefu’s house with the full audience present. The second part is set in four different areas of the house; the lawn, the study, the bedroom and the kitchen. The audience is divided into groups so they can watch the scenes as they rotate. The play ends in the living room in front of the full audience.

The eight roles are Fefu (Tiffany Cole); Cindy (Tanya Gorlow); Christina (Dominique Corona); free-spirited Emma (Sydney A. Mason); the hallucinating Julia (Sandy Duarte) — who is in a wheelchair and may or may not be paralyzed after a very strange hunting accident; grieving Paula (Cynthia Yelle); over-the-top happy Sue (Alexis Santiago); and Cecilia (Jennifer Lee Laks). All the actors are terrific; however Cole and  Duarte are standouts.

In the end, Fefu and Her Friends is a surreal comedy/drama/tragedy that will resonate with women as well as men, especially given the #MeToo movement. A perfect play to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Odyssey Theatre.

photos by Enci Box

Fefu and Her Friends
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd in West L.A.
Fri & Sat at 8; Sun at 2; Wed at 8 (Sept 11 & 25); Thurs at 8 (Sept 19)
ends on September 29, 2019
for tickets, call 310.477.2055 or visit Odyssey

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