On Friday night I caught the opening performance of Stray Cat Theatre’s production of Fata Attraction: A Greek Tragedy. A spoof of the 1987 film of roughly the same name, the quick play (clocking in at just over an hour) tears through all the high points of the original—steamy elevator sex, the suicide attempt, the boiled bunny—and brings their subtext into the text in hilarious and inventive ways. One really significant aspect of the production is its use of a four-person (two men/two women in business suits) Greek chorus, who come on stage between scenes to give commentary derived from tragedies, ladies’ etiquette books, and other scraps of strange (and funny) texts.
The characters in the play are referred to by the names of the actors who played them, often their full names—Glenn Close, Anne Archer, Michael Douglas, etc. Ellen, the child of the philanderer, was played by a six-foot+ man. All of the performances were great send ups, but Alicia Sutton as Anne Archer and Cynthia Rena as Glenn Close probably got to have the most fun with their meaty parts. “I am a WORKING WOMAN, Michael,” Glenn Close seethes at several non-sequitous points throughout the play.
Even the chorus pull double duty, often standing in as props or flies on the wall during the scenes. One chorus member served as the Answering Machine (standing in the house holding the phone and beeping, then making rewinding noises with her mouth as the message sped backwards) AND later stood in the corner of the kitchen blowing through a straw into a little jug of water to make the sounds of the bunny boiling on the stove. These little touches—along with hilarious costume choices for each cast member—brought so much to the script.
The play also included a five or ten minute “dream” ballet in which the chorus members took on each of the primary performer’s roles and resummarized the plot in dance, complete with a huge devil-eyed bunny who chased many of the dancers around the stage. I’m not sure this was part of the original script, but it added so much.
I laughed my ass off throughout the production. I thought it was a smart parody of the “scheming woman” genre of filmmaking and it got me thinking about other films like Working Girl that do similar things to the role of women in the workplace. But that’s an essay for another time. For now, if you’re in Phoenix, go see this play.