Amazons and Their Men

This weekend Culturebot went to see Clubbed Thumb‘s production of Jordan Harrison‘s Amazons and Their Men at The Ohio. We hadn’t seen any of Mr. Harrison’s work before, but we always love watching Heidi Schreck and have a lot of respect for director Ken Rus Schmoll and everyone over at Clubbed Thumb, so we decided to check it out. And boy are we glad we did!

Rebecca Wisocky plays a character called “the Frau” based on Leni Riefenstahl. She is attempting to direct (and star in) a film called Penthiselea, about the Amazon queen who battled and fell in love with Achilles (played by Brian Sgambatti). She’s hired a Jewish actor to play Achilles and during the filming he falls in love with the Gypsy actor (actually a messenger boy) who has been hired to play Patrocles (Gio Perez). The fact of their affair off-camera only highlights the heretofore subtextual love story between Achilles and Patrocles in the film and threatens to derail the entire project. I mean, imagine a Nazi filmmaker trying to make a film about Classical Perfection and Beauty but using a Jew and a Gypsy to inadvertently tell a gay love story – all on The Fuhrer’s dime! All along “The Frau” is helped by her sister, known only as “The Extra” (Heidi Schreck), who serves both as conscience and abettor.

The result is a compelling exploration of complicity and creativity, unwavering vision and willing blindness, of the pursuit of perfection at the cost of humanity.

The style of the show is BIG – over the top acting, direct address and grand gestures. Harrison and Schmoll manage to find a perfect balance between high drama and camp, using comedy to make the tragic moments even more poignant. I also loved the way they played with film and theatrical conventions, having the actors narrate the film scenes as they act them.

Towards the end, Heidi Scheck’s character has a speech about “extras” that is very moving. It kind of reminds me of Peter Falk’s musings in the beginning of the film Wings of Desire.

I didn’t take notes during the show, unfortunately, so I’m not going to be able to completely reconstruct my thoughts and impressions but overall I found Amazons and Their Men to be a really rewarding experience. Go check it out.

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