CincyFringe Reivew: White Girl

What are you 'supposed' to be? We all ask that question and we all face the mirror we ask.  When we answer ourselves those answers can sound similar, but that "supposed" part of the question is subjective or rather it is 'supposed' to be. If you are a woman and/or if you are not white, that subjectivity has social and cultural constraints that don't match the reflection you are 'supposed' to see in the mirror.

Maythinee Washington's performance in White Girl is a powerful illustration of the norm not matching the individual.  Through a creatively compiled audio track mixed with non-verbal acting, Washington's conceptual piece displays a focused message with strong visual imagery.

I enjoyed the use of props, emotion, and audio to speak for the actor/writer and bring her character to life and communicate what is going on in her mind.  One particular climatic moment was stunningly composed and was a really impressive conduit that added an organic beauty to the illustration of idealized or artificial beauty.  I also enjoyed the mix of themes: 1)how idealized beauty affects and neglects racial minorities and 2)how the female gender role has been instilled on women from birth and the limitations and constraints those roles contain.

One Suggestion to the audience: sit in the front.  The venue and the production don't mix for much of the performance as the seating is not tiered and much of the action occurs on low on the stage.

CincyFringe Reivew: Headscarf and the Angery Bitch

The Anger in Zehra Fazal's Headscarf and the Angry Bitch is reserved not for her religion or her family or her ethnicity, but lies with the actions of all of those entities interacting together and making her life full of contradictions and confusion.

 

Fazal's character Zed Headscarf takes you in with her seminar, learning about Islam.  Along the way she shares her stories about her upbringing with Pakistani parents and extended family and how sex and it's many variances lack a place in the culture surrounding her religion.

 

Fazal's character does this most refreshingly through song parodies. She earns her "Muslim Weird Al" title with very funny versions of popular tunes.  The Ramadan song, played to tune of Litter Drummer Boy, is really clever, and will make your grandmother blush even without being within 200 miles of the performance venue.

 

Fazal is a strong singer and a solid performer, keeping the show going during a big technical problem during one of her songs.  The lighting blew a circuit braker and everything went dark, but the sound was fine. She didn't miss a beat and kept on going.

 

The songs are the highlight of the story, along with her descriptions of her family, which resonate with anyone with parents that are even remotely serious about religion or tradition.  The narrative is limited and elements of the character's sexuality make leaps that are quite large without much forshadowing.  I could have used some additional background on that for the storyline to flow without the big jump.