As the rape and death of 23 year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey makes news, there comes a show that speaks about the trials and tribulations of girls growing up all over the world. Emotional Creature, is a collection of songs, monologues and social problems woven together by Eve Ensler. Six multi-talented young actors show how an ensemble can work together to create distinct characters who blend together as voices in the world while standing strong by themselves. Emotional Creature realizes that together, as one voice, we are strong. For so long we have been pitted against each other forced to be separate – - no longer. Though these women go through intense situations, it is when they bond together that they find their salvation and their ability to fight comes on their own terms.
Ms. Ensler, best known for The Vagina Monologues, gives us girl power and I would love to see this production continue, go to elementary, Jr. high and high schools, colleges around the US and the world.
Each actor becomes several teens. Molly Carden portrays Ms. Carden, a high schooler who longs to fit in and because she doesn’t wish to disappear. Later on, she becomes Sofia a 16-year-old Bulgarian, who is raped for two years at 12 by her father’s best friend and when it is discovered, kicked out into the streets and forced into prostitution by the police. As they burn her with cigarettes she tells how she is a “receptacle” a piece of “property.”
Courtney Thomas plays Marta from the Congo, who when she and her friends go on a shopping vacation they are raped and she is forced to be the sexual slave of one of the soldiers for two years until she escapes. Marta tells how to survive the ordeal. “Do not feel guilty about how happy you feel when you hear he is dead.” She also plays a young woman praying to God to keep her clitoris as her village wants to take it from her.
Sade Namei is a girl from Iran whose big nose is an embarrassment to her family but to her, it is a gift until on her 16th birthday her parents, wanting to make her beautiful, take her to a clinic to have it chopped off. Not knowing what is happening she wakes up to cough up what once was hers.
Courtney Thomas wants to be accepted short skirt and all and to have rights.
Chang Ying, played by Olivia Oguma, is fifteen and sends psychic messages through the heads of the Barbie dolls she is forced to make. She tries to makes sense why Barbie has a dream house and she does not. To her, Barbie is the prisoner.
One of the most touching scenes and the most horrifying is Emily S. Grosland who kills herself because she cannot fit into her parent’s expectation of her.
This show sounds like a tragedy, which it is, but the songs, with lyrics by Ms. Ensler and music by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder, offer solidarity, joyousness and hope, something most shows do not. For once, I saw a solution to the entrapment of women and found it a freedom to count myself as an Emotional Creature .
Jo Bonney’s direction kept the show at a pace that left just the right amount of time to digest but not get to full. Luam’s choreography was thrillingly fresh.
Take your mothers, your sisters, your daughters and any female you know to see this before it closes. You will be glad you did.
Emotional Creature: Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd St. until January 13th.
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