BUFFALO NEWS REVIEW 4/13/10
'Necessary Targets' has unfinished business
BUFFALO NEWS CONTRIBUTING REVIEWER
Three Out of Four Stars!
"After the bombing, after the snipers, that's when the real war
We probably shouldn't be surprised that playwright, sometime actress,
feminist and activist Eve Ensler said the above, because the author of the
ubiquitous "The Vagina Monologues" -- at recent count,
translated into 45 languages and performed in more than 120 countries -- a
funny, insightful, candid and topical play about body image and sexuality, is
everywhere, it seems, when violence and women is the topic at hand.
Another Ensler work, "Necessary Targets," is a story about
five Bosnian women refugees trying to salvage their lives after the carnage in
that country after the mid-1990s internecine conflict. "Targets"
has just opened at the Manny Fried Playhouse, brought there by Subversive
Theatre Collective. A fine, seven-member ensemble has been gathered from
Subversive's resident company, an energized group from Empire State College
and three actresses from the Brazen Faced Varlets troupe. Susan Forbes,
well-traveled, with a bulging and impressive theatrical portfolio, directs.
Two American women counseling professionals, middle-aged J. S. -- lover of
creature comforts, her suitcase full of designer clothes -- and
twenty-something Melissa, full of what we call "attitude" today but
acting in a way my grandmother would have called "snippy" -- have
been sent to Bosnia to help a group of woman refugees "cope," to
hear their stories of rape, depression, homelessness, poverty and starvation,
to somehow balance reality and hope, all without patronizing and coming across
as ugly Americans.
First sessions do not go well. J. S. can't disguise her pampered lifestyle;
Melissa is pushy and can't resist shrink-speak. After a few horrific
disclosures by one of the women, Melissa says, "It's OK to cry."
Big help. "So, this is American therapy?" the women
say. "Seems like another terrible day to me," says old
Gradually, though, we do hear their stories. J. S. learns much about
herself, lessons taught by the wise Ziata [sic], once a medical doctor,
left to wonder about her once-beautiful Bosnia, longing to be "reminded
of how often we laughed and how safe we felt."
It is Ziata [sic] who counsels. Trying to explain how the war
happened, she speaks of "cruelty and stupidity being quick and
immediate." J. S. bonds. Melissa, resisting involvement, runs
off to another war-torn spot before she might take her own advice and shed a
You would have to be part statue if you didn't come to care for Ziata [sic],
Azra, the terribly abused Seada, the earthy Jelena and the fantasizing Nuna.
Yet, there is much more to be said, and "Necessary Targets"
seems unfinished. Uncharacteristically, Ensler ran out of words.
The ensemble is laudable: Jane Cudmore, Brittany Kucala, Lara Haberberger,
Heather Fangsrud, Theresa DiMuro-Wilber, Kelly Beuth, potent as the sad Seada;
and Martha Rothkopf, acidic and amiable at once as Ziata [sic], take
home the night's honors.
Drama at Subversive Theatre Collective, Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great
Arrow, third floor. Through April 30. Call 408-0499 for info or subversivetheatre.org.