Krina Casiano’s solo play, Womankind, at The Club at La MaMa is nothing if not ambitious. The actress attempts to track the whole of female experience, the loss of innocence as girl-becomes-woman, the brutality she sees as a commonplace in intimate relationships, the grim realization that men live to dominate and demean women…and that women are so stupid they collaborate.
Her political argument is so absolute as to make it a pretty hard sell. Nevertheless — there are moments. Casiano is touching as the young girl delighting in an ice cream cone one moment — and humiliated by men hurling sexual come-ons at her the next. She captures the shame girls feel as she worries she has caused this unwanted attention. She grabs a guitar as the studio lights come up and she panhandles the audience, touching us with her vulnerability and shame. Later, Casiano does a standup comedy act. The virtual male audience loves her when she stays in line, working material that supports the traditional male-female contract. As soon as she changes that predictable structure, (when she wonders why so many women in the military are raped when they have guns.) the room turns on her.
Casiano is a remarkable athlete. Her pole dancing is dazzling and her Cirque du Soleil acrobatics on hanging silk strands are mesmerizing. Maybe it’s a stretch, but I felt her enormous strength in these displays masked in sensuality was a big fat metaphor for what women do; masking strength in stilettos and silks.
The eighty-minute program is in verse and song. The verse is a challenge and gets tiresome quickly. The music, by Bryan Wade, is original and appealing. Casiano doesn’t hit every note solidly, but, given she is dancing and tumbling while making wardrobe and prop changes, alone and in the dark , it is remarkable she sounds as convincing as she does.
Womankind is a downer but it is not without art.
Womankind is written and performed by who also choreographs and directs.
Bryan Wade did the music. Miguel Angel Valderrama handles the lighting. Jorge Dieppa is the set and prop manager. Stage manager is Antigona Gonzalez and Alejandra Orozco it the acting director. Additional male voices by Rock Wilk.
This was a final New York performance, Sunday, March 2nd.