Cementville | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


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Mary-Arrchie Theatre.

The first full-length play by the pseudonymous "Jane Martin" (of Talking With... fame) focuses on the world of professional female wrestling. There are no holds barred in this black comedy (which includes a Lorena-style amputation): Cementville employs industrial-strength language, cartoon violence, and louder-than-life conflicts to depict what the women call "shit work for bad pay." In this misogynistic world, where "real looks like nothing," these "fall girls" must play heroines or bitches to salivating racist rubes.

Kay Martinovich's rampaging staging pulls no punches: the fake violence on the mat is mocked by the real stuff behind the scenes. The action--and there's plenty--erupts in a rancid locker room (nicely messed up by Robert G. Smith) in Cementville, Tennessee. Loathing their pimplike manager, who books them but doesn't pay them, the women--each sharply defined by her talk, actions, and clothes--face even more hassles when they're forced to share the arena with the glitzy Knockout Sisters. This snotty, hateful pair push the other women into some butt-bumping, gut-pumping, arm-twisting, gun-blazing squabbles.

Unfortunately the comedy self-destructs in the end: the laughs turn cruel as the wrestlers revenge themselves on their sexist, racist foes. But a dignified ex-boxer shows the women the pride their work denies them.

The 14 pile-driving, inexhaustible cast members almost literally knock themselves out. Their pain is our gain.

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