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|A CurtainUp Review
By Laura Hitchcock
Little, a world premiere by a 24-year-old magna cum laude college graduate, Angela Berliner. This is a cultural collage whose theme develops the helplessness and exploitation of the Little, with show business as its focus.
The playwright plays Little 2, a suicidal teen-age pop star so love-starved that she propositions every man she meets. Berliner's keen ear for contemporary dialogue is evidenced in one of the play's funniest interchanges when her "Let's do it!" is casually rejected with "I'm on the phone."
Little 2's story alternates with the saga of Little 1, played by the playwright's twin sister, Jordana Berliner. Little 2 was born at the turn of the century and raised in an orphanage with a pitiful collection of children under the sadistic supervision of Miss Bitch. Think Jane Eyre derivative here though this is nevertheless the section that provides the play's most moving moments.
Puppy (Kimo Wills), the only boy in the orphanage, is dehumanized into a dog, forced to bark instead of speak and to bear Little 2's punishments so her talent can blossom unscathed and "make Miss Bitch Rich." She is carried off by a monstrous impresario who uses her talent until she grows up and isn't cute anymore.
Berliner expresses emotional content with vigor and humor. An ace cast benefits from the directorial hand of Shira Piven who seems to get inside the playwright's mind and visually interprets her instincts through shadows on the wall, whistles that emphasize lines, actors who underline a dramatic phrase by racing across the stage.
Danila Korogodsky's stunning scenic design features dolls attached to the walls. The casting of the identical Berliner twins reinforces the exploitation of child actors in every century. Though still a raw talent, Berliner's dramatic instincts and ear for dialogue make her a playwright to watch.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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