The Women | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Women 

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THE WOMEN, Village Players Theatre. We don't need Sex and the City to tell us that women can be ruthless in looking out for their own interests. But in 1936 Clare Boothe Luce's peek into the powder room was a shocker. Who suspected that society matrons could be so cynical about the marriages upon which their status depended?

Modern productions skirt charges of misogyny by emphasizing how limited opportunities were for women at the time, which forced them into petty intrigues in their sole arena of advancement. (Similarly, advertisements for the 1939 film dodged implications of sapphism by proclaiming "The Women is all about men!") Director Roxanne Fay, however, sees the play as an exploration of love's many facets--a wholesome if less stimulating focus than money or power.

Even trimmed to two hours, this glamour-drenched expose is an ambitious undertaking for theaters with limited resources given the many costume changes and quick shifts in characterization. Here it's only in the final scenes--when the champions face off, the prettiest dresses come out, and the incorrigible Countess DeLage (played with relish by Betty Scott Smith) provides a gust of fresh air--that we begin to care who keeps or loses her man.


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