Even today, when our culture is finally starting to accept that women are just as capable as men, there are still a disproportionally small number of ladies cast in violent or truly bad ass roles. Enter Reservoir Dolls by Erika Anne Soerensen; an all female parody of Tarantino\’s Reservoir Dogs. Dolls is directed by J.D. Loyd and is now playing at Seattle’s Theater Schmeater, for the delight of anyone fortunate enough to see it.
For the most part, Dolls‘ dialog is directly adapted from the original film, but the lines are put in a completely different context when spoken by women. For example, the breakfast scene. When Ms. Pink refuses to tip, the others speak up in solidarity for waitresses, rather than trying to empathize across the gender divide. At the same time, Ms. Pink’s stinginess seems to come from her disgust with a system that she sees as personally insulting; one that insinuates that women need to rely on the charity of others to get by.
A lot of elements go into making this a great show, and the most obvious is the acting. Every member of the cast does a great job, but it’s Lisa Vietrel as Ms. Blonde and Christine White as Ms. White (huh) who really stand out. Ms. Vietrel brings a whole new layer of creepy psychopathy to her role. The way she sways back and forth when she moves reminds me of a cobra ready to strike. The interrogation scene also takes on a new, sexual, context under her watch. I especially love when she fakes the cop out, threatening to slash him and pulling back at the last minute.
Christine White, for her part, steals entire sections of the show. She is undoubtedly a great pick for what ends up being the closest thing Reservoir Dolls has to a main character. Ms. White’s unique look and voice make her easily stand out, and the fact that she is a little older than the other characters gives her words the weight of experience. Her actions to protect Ms. Orange are especially poignant.
Another thing Dolls has going for it are the blood effects. Anyone who has seen the original movie knows there is a lot of blood, and the play does not disappoint. As someone who has worked theater tech in the past, I know how tricky blood effects can be, and I am honestly amazed how well the Schmee pulls it off. The ear removal scene is especially well done. To Director Loyd and anyone else involved in the special effects: congratulations. What you’ve done is truly impressive.
The only real flaw I can find with the play is at the very end, when the door to the warehouse bangs open and the voices of cops are heard. In the film, the door is off screen, but that obviously can’t be done in a play. Instead, the stage door opens, but it’s clear that there’s no one behind it. This is the only moment in the entire show where translation from film to stage is a serious problem, and that’s an impressive feat in itself.
Reservoir Dolls is a fantastic show, and it plays at Theater Schmeater on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until June 18. Tickets are available here. Up next at the Schmee is Arrrh! A Dinosaur Ate My Space Ship, which will hopefully be as interesting as the title makes it sound.