Femme Boost | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Femme Boost 

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Femme Boost, at the Playground, through July 25. If you can't find some facet of your own personality in Femme Boost, a program of two one-woman shows, you should at least see attributes of friends and family. Jenny Hagel in "Not So Fresh" combines sarcastic relationship songs (which would benefit from more varied accompaniment) with satirical monologues offering clever takes on conventional wisdom. In one tune, a stalker describes what constitutes a crush, while another features Hagel's mother asking about her social life, a segment enhanced by slyly subtitled slides of Hagel's dating history. Among the monologues, highlights include a character reciting her first-date checklist and a dramatically misinformed fund-raiser touting the value of a college education by linking Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream and the Protestant Reformation.

In "Coming of Age in Samoa," Ali Davis pays tribute to her "personal hero" Margaret Mead, interspersing snippets of biography with intelligently funny, forceful monologues on religion, rape, sex, and lesbianism. Davis's characters are distinct and richly drawn, their differences conveyed through expert physical and vocal shifts. The accounts of Mead's life and career, however, only tenuously link the sketches and make Davis appear unfocused and anxious. Perhaps personifying Mead or a professor passionate about "Mama Margaret" might have called into service Davis's acting skills and overcome the awkward storytelling.

--Jenn Goddu


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