Waterworks’ play is intense and compelling
By Byron Toben
The Waterworks company, created by 1994 Concordia grads Rob Langford and Tracey Houston, is committed to staging contemporary playwriting by women from around the world. That they have indeed done, with such plays as Canadian Judith Thompson’s “Palace at the End” and the U.K.’s Cat Jones’ “Glory Dazed”.
In “Aftermath” they have a real coup. It was written by ’60s poster girl for radical feminism Andrea Dworkin in rambling form on her computer and never published before her death in 2005. It was discovered by her partner, John Stoltenberg, who had it adapted for the theatre. Aside from a 6-day run staged reading run in Manhattan, this Montreal performance is its full stage world premiere.
The bare bones stage, a ladder and piles of books, forces the audience to concentrate on the words as delivered emotionally and powerfully by Helena Levitt. The spine of the play is her rape while unconscious from a drugged drink in a Paris hotel room. This recitation allows her to review her whole life, from a battered wife to a successful writer and anti-pornography activist.
Written by ’60s poster girl for radical feminism Andrea Dworkin, “Aftermath” was discovered by her partner, John Stoltenberg, who had it adapted for the theatre.
In one of the talkbacks during its first week, I was surprised at how many of the appreciative audience had never heard of Andrea before, even though she had been right up there with Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Germaine Greer.
My only criticism is that at 90 minutes with an unrelenting protagonist, it is a tad too long. Some of the monologue at times recalled Albee’s repetitive beats “She Said… She Said… She Said” and, according to Ms Levitt, even a Shakespearean melodic undertone.
Aftermath continues at Centre Cultural Georges Vanier, 2450 Workman, Montreal:
Friday September 25 at 8 pm
Saturday September 26 at 4 and 8 pm
Sunday September 27 at 4 pm
For tickets go to Waterworksmontreal.com
Image : courtesy of Waterworks Montreal
Byron Toben is a past-president of the Montreal Press Club.