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A CurtainUp Review

The Female Terrorist Project
By Amanda Cooper

One: women are quicker to act and therefore go further, faster. Two: women are genetically predisposed to endure a higher level of pain than men. And three: women value the needs of the group over their own and will betray family and friends for the cause. As a result, counter-terrorism experts offer this advice - Shoot the women first ---- Amelia
Molly Powell & Lael Logan
L-R: Molly Powell & Lael Logan
Exit polls from our barely-over presidential race show that the majority of the country feels President Bush will do a better job to keep us safe than Kerry. As New Yorkers live in a constant state of Orange Alert and Soccer Moms are being referred to as Security Moms, the battle for freedom of privacy may only get harder. It makes me wonder if the Patriot Act's keeping us safe measures will lead to my name ending up up on some list because this review contains the word terrorist? and President.

In The Female Terrorist Project Ken Urban has chronicled a fictional near future. It tracks Amelia, a college professor who's researching female terrorists. Amelia's research rouses suspicion among her colleagues and she soon finds herself under investigation by the government and then fired. Fed up with the system, she begins to follow an underground female activist group (read: terrorists). It's not too long before research and observation lead to her taking part in their activities.

To show why and how Amelia came to be a part of a terrorist group, the play intersperses scenes showing Amelia being interrogated with scenes in which she interviews infamous, historic female terrorists, as well as monologues of said terrorists addressing the audience. Miss Kim Hyon Hui was trained by the North Korean goverment and blew up a South Korean airline flight, Shelley Shannon was an Oregon resident who, for "moral" reasons began firebombing abortion clinics, or as she called them, "killing mills." Of the five female terrorists, four are non-fictional, and all five are meant to shed light on fictional Amelia's decision to join them. .

The raw, yet warm space that is the Chocolate Factory theater is simply lit without much color. The staging is stark, with just a few tables and chairs. Director Laramie Dennis uses the unconventional space most effectively, using the whole playing area throughout the show -- shaftway, rolling large metal door. In fact, the staging works better than most of the too purposeful movement that takes place in the center stage vicinity.

The cast is solid, with shout-outs for some of the ensemble members: The striking Lael Logan, the physical timidity of Zina Camblin, and Travis York's pushy presence. Though Molly Powell who plays Amelia is clearly a seasoned performer, her portrayal is less impressive.

Playwright Ken Urban's ambitious script has some very powerful moments. I can't remember the last time I saw a gunshot used so successfully on stage. Artistic expressions about the dangers involved in sacrificing our freedoms for our safety is relevant. Even stating that the slope our government is headed down just may push reasonable, moral, people to commit extreme, even horrendous acts is not without validity. But many of Urban's plot points and his use of these plot points to double as shock tactics were unnecessary and distracted from his message.

Perhaps those itching to see something that is anti-conservative government will feel fulfilled. I was left feeling mostly dubious.

The Female Terrorist Project
Written by Ken Urban
Directed by Laramie Dennis
Cast: Molly Powell, Lael Logan, Nicole Godino, Alison Weller, Marianna Newhard, Zina Camblin, David Andrew McMahon, and Travis York.
Set Design: David Newell
Costume Design: Maggie Dick
Lighting Design: Beth Turomsha
Sound Design: Ken Urban David Bucci
Running Time: 2 hours with one ten minute intermission
A production of The Committee and The Chocolate Factory
The Chocolate Factory, 5-49 49th Avenue, Long Island City (#7 one stop past Grand Central to Vernon Blvd) 718.482.7069
Thursday - Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm
10/29/04 to11/20/04; opening 10/03/04
Tickets, $15
Reviewed by Amanda Cooper based on October 31, 2004 performance.
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