Meetup #13: The Taming

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Our 13th Meetup to see Lauren Gunderson’s hugely-acclaimed satire, THE TAMING at Crowded Fire Theater is one we are not likely to forget!  San Francisco’s Broadway World calls it a “crackling modern farce”, one that “hilariously takes on America’s overheated political rhetoric, some surprising truths about our founding fathers, and the passions of three slightly insane women who just might be revolutionary geniuses.”

SFGate’s Robert Hurwitt has some high praise for the production:

“It may not be the solution to the government shutdown, but Lauren Gunderson’s “The Taming” provides hilariously pertinent relief from the aggravation. All it takes to start healing the country is a savvy beauty queen, a look at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and a cogent byte from “The Taming of the Shrew” in the Crowded Fire Theater world premiere that opened Monday at Thick House.”

The ensemble of women in this all-female play also get two thumbs up from Hurwitt, who bring to life this political satire:

“The ensuing conflict plays out like an extended, high-quality “Saturday Night Live” sketch. It’s staged by Crowded Fire’s Marissa Wolf with the pinpoint comic timing of a bedroom farce, complete with screwball chase scene, underwear gags (the dignity with which Zdan tries to tuck her shirt into pantyhose is a riot) and slyly developing sexual attractions. Miyuki Bierlein’s vivid costumes add touches of beauty-pageant camp and Founding Father lampoon to the fun.

As for the three leads, well, three cheers to them!

“This time it’s Katherine (Kathryn Zdan) who does the taming. As the delightfully body-proud, super-patriot Miss Georgia, she’s got something bigger in mind for the Miss America pageant than her “talent” offerings. So she’s locked herself in a hotel room with two captive political opposites. Patricia is the manager and brains behind a far-right Southern senator, played by a formidable Marilee Talkington. Bianca (a fierce Marilet Martinez) is a no less doctrinaire, unscrupulous left-wing blogger who seems more invested in self-promotion than preserving an endangered shrew.”

Artists working on the project include:

Lauren Gunderson (playwright); Marissa Wolf (director); Lexie Papedo (Asst. Director); Laura Brueckner and Alicia Coombes (Dramaturgy); Kathryn Zdan* (Katherine); Marilee Talkington* (Patricia); Marilet Martinez (Bianca); Stephanie Buchners (Lighting Design); Madeleine Oldham (Sound Design); Devon LaBelle (Prop Design); Sohaa Mina Smith (Stage Manager); Hannah Westbrook (ASM); Stephanie Alyson Henderson (Production Manager); Tiffany Cothran (Managing Director)

* Member of Actor’s Equity Association

If you were part of the meetup, or have watched this production or plan to, WWSF would love to hear your thoughts! Do share your feedback with us in the comments.

EDITED TO ADD: Comments from the awesome community!

“Laughing so hard at THE TAMING my face hurts. Make your way to the Thick House to see Marilee Talkington, Kathryn Zdan, and Marilet Martinez throw down some of the best lines around.” — Susan McGuire Shay

“This show is like a comedy minefield. I laughed so hard and often, I think I pulled something.” — Reggie D. White

“So you know how some sexist comic every few years comes out and says women aren’t funny… THE TAMING is the most awesome F.U. to those a-holes!” — Evren Odcikin

“These women absolutely rock!” — Lily Tung Crystal 

Image courtesy: SFGate

Also read:

SFGate’s profile of the prolific Lauren Gunderson


7 responses to “Meetup #13: The Taming

  1. This was I think the funniest of the shows we’ve seen with Works by Women SF!! A great contrast to last month’s all female ensemble at Impact. I loved the broadly drawn characters, and the flip in perspectives in the ‘dream sequence’ Miyuki Bierlein deserves major kudos for the wrangling of wigs, pageant wear, and 18th cent suiting.

  2. Funny, funny, funny (with some serious stuff snuck in there). Includes an interlude in which two women in time-travel mode and in founding-father drag argue about whether slavery should be enshrined in the constitution. The dead-serious matter under debate at that moment in the play didn’t kill the comedy, and on the other hand, the comedy didn’t deflect or soften the horrific reality of what they were arguing about. I love that kind of comedy. And: So well acted!

  3. What an extraordinary combination of electric wit, Southern charm, powerhouse comic performances, and deep political analysis! I have seen and enjoyed Lauren Gunderson’s work before, but this play takes her signature kick-ass feminist style to a whole new level. The three rock-star performers (Kathryn Zdan, Marilee Talkington, and Marilet Martinez) are a finely oiled comedic machine, playing off each other physically and vocally with such incredible timing and panache. Marissa Wolf’s direction is also razor sharp – the breathless pacing, broad physical comedy, and inherently comedic design elements offer a rich platform from which the performers can launch the play into the audience’s lap. I will NEVER forget seeing women play the founding fathers – an extraordinary image that reframed my ideas about how our Constitution came to be. Another knock-out production from Crowded Fire!

  4. Nice to get together beforehand. Sorry I couldn’t stay after. The play was so lively and sharply played! “I am an ambitious American woman in evening wear and don’t f### with me.”

  5. Fast, funny and furious…just like I like my theater. My friends on that stage and creating that piece of work were all playing at the top of their game. It made me feel so proud to be a female artist and feminist. I felt like I was being hit over the head with all kinds of amazing things that I want to be hit over the head with PLUS I got some really cool and very hot passion about our country’s history which is beautiful and emotional all at once. I hope I can figure out how to go again. It’s that good.

  6. I especially was impressed with how Marilet Martinez stayed in character when she lost her line, and how Marilee Talkington helped her find it again. Amazingly funny play. Sorry we could not meet up before or after, but will try next time. I want to go see “I and You” by Lauren at Marin Theater Co. now.

  7. Pingback: Noteworthy News and Shows to See | Works by Women San Francisco·

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