This is a devised show, which in non-theater terms means the performers, six 20-something women in boxy coveralls with rainbow-colored chemises underneath, are also the creators. They’ve stitched together their own words with a few song-and-dance routines, stories about their grandmothers and World War II-era oral histories (if Queen Bey is one of the show’s fairy godmothers, Rosie the Riveter is the other). The approach leads to a cluttered, kitchen-sink quality—the barrage of statistics overwhelms more than it illuminates—as well as some missed opportunities for humor.
But the most trenchant moments are those that eschew larger debates—whether women can have it all or why society continues to perceive working mothers with disdain—to expose something raw or funny about the performers and their relationships with one another. Sometimes it’s literally revealing: Zoe Rudman, with impressive warmth and panache, comes onstage wearing a half-dozen bras and divulges a personal fact with each clasp she undoes. Then there’s the show’s arguable highlight, a riff on Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango.” Retitled “Cellulite Tango,” each woman identifies a physical insecurity, resulting in a refrain nearly as catchy as the original’s: “Sweat! Ribs! Pooch! Backne! Jewish nose! Small tits!”
as they pair off and exchange praise, it feels neither forced nor
perfunctory. They’re just some ladies validating the living shit out of
each other. And deservedly so.
SEE IT: Independent Women is at Action/Adventure Theatre, 1050 SE Clinton St., socialsciencesproductions.com. 8 pm Thursdays-Saturdays through March 22 and Monday, March 17. $12-$15; Thursdays “pay what you can.”