MCC Theater is ensconced in the Lucille Lortel Theatre this season and has mounted a new play written by Jen Silverman and directed by Mike Donahue. While it brings to mind the ground breaking “Vagina Monologues” it has taken the feminist body image advocacy in Eve Ensler’s play and thrown in SNL style improv accomplished by five characters each named Betty. They each have distinct characters, approaches and styles that come together in revolving short scenes. Always engaging and frequently funny it is also somewhat ragged and ultimately satisfying.
Betty 2 (Adina Verson, who was terrific last season in “Indecent”) has the most fully written character and captures the evening with a terrific coda. Betty 3 (Ana Villafane, who was terrific in “On Your Feet”) shapes the narrative after spending an evening in the “theatuh” at what she recalls as “Summer Midnight Dream.” She leaves her job at Sephora’s to mount a play within a play to find fame and fulfillment with all the other Betties. Betty 1 (Dana Delaney, terrific many years ago in “Dinner With Friends”) uses her role in the play to make the largest transformation of the five. Betty 4 (Lea DeLaria, terrific a couple of seasons ago in “On The Town”) is predictably the most militant and memorable presence. Betty 5 (Chaunte Wayans, new to me and the stage) rounds out a terrific cast.
If the above seems a bit convoluted, it is but still hangs together well for a fun night in the theater. Special kudos to the scenic design of Dane Laffrey which adds to the surreal and energetic stage action. This play will not be enjoyed by all, especially if you cannot tolerate the repeated use of the word for the part of the female anatomy that some President may want to grab. But it is impelled by female empowerment that has been growing in the theater world for some time and has now gained a foothold in our political world. I recommend the production and hope you can see it in the limited time left.
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