BY KATHLEEN CAMPION
It’s been a week whiffy with estrogen at the New York International Fringe Festival. “First Hand Woman,” “The A-is-for-Abortion Play,” “Mercedes Benz Awkwardly,” and, at Venue 3, well off the beaten track at 107 Suffolk Street on the LES, “A Fallopian Fairy Tale.”
An engaging Maris Marquez both writes and performs this one-woman show. The best line comes early: Marquez says she is “on a mission to take the pink out of Princess and put it back in the pussy.”
A worthy mission, to be sure, but ultimately the one-hour falls short of the sexual politics the line suggests. That said, “A Fallopian Fairy Tale” does deliver on a couple of other fronts.
There’s the personal story. Marquez shares her own journey through technical virginity imposed by her parents’ expectations of her purity – to “he said he loved me so I said okay” – to her father’s disappointment discovering condoms in her bathroom when she is thirty – to her HPV infection. She offers us charming and respectfully funny portraits of her traditional Filipino parents. She shows us a loving trap but a trap nevertheless.
And then there’s the actual fairy tale – the princess, the hermit, the king and queen, the young farmer boy with his “ripe bananas,” and most importantly, A Fairy GynoMother with her clinical wisdom if dubious UWS accent. (My guest at this performance is a ‘fairy gynomother’ with an important East Side practice who, all-in-all, signed off on the accuracy of the gyno data.) So, you could also say that FFT is educational.
Marquez underscores she’s telling two stories by offering her own story on the tiny stage in a disarmingly ‘girls-just-talking’ delivery; then she races up to “the gods” (not so far in this tiny house) planting an electric crown on her head and a disturbing red light on her person, to tell the not-a-Disney-fairy-tale. Yes, the pink-in-the-pussy part.
There isn’t much theater that speaks frankly about a girl’s coming of age that is just about her coming of age and not about her marriageability. This “Tale” offers several deft, frank moments. She makes us remember the surprise of the sticky mucus in the underpants and the humiliation of a stained, white dress when an unexpected menstrual flow begins. Any woman old enough, or traditional enough, to remember the surprise captured here will feel something. Don’t talk about it. Don’t go in the pool. Don’t touch yourself. Don’t.
The thing Marquez does best is she’s able to make us empathize with her personal vulnerability while at the same time she makes us own the unmentionable – the color of our labia, the implications of the stained dress, the obvious nature of the adolescent hormonal stickiness in the underpants.
The space at Venue #3 is small and uncomfortable. There is a screen stage left for the primitive fairy tale images. And there is an effort at musical transitions. The musical choices, like the drag-queen favorite, Disney’s falsetto Snow White, are a lot of fun. That said, it’s a one-woman show and the transitions are labored and sticky in another sense.
Kira Onodera directs. Three people worked on the sound and sound design: Ann Warren, Matt Katz, and Kira Onodera. Calvin O. Anderson did the lighting.
Venue #3, in a great neighborhood, is called CSV Kabaoitos at 107 Suffolk Street (Rivington & Delancy.) Come early and walk around. Thursday, August 22nd at 8:45, Friday, August 23rd at 9:30, and Saturday, August 24th at 8pm. Tickets $15 to $18, cash only at venue. Seating is general admission. Production is one hour, no intermission, and no latecomers admitted.