Missionary Position: Session 2

The intrepid women explorers of Glass Half Full Theatre make a welcome return, bringing bountiful laughs


Hilarity, thy name is woman.

No disrespect to Mr. Shakespeare, but I feel confident that after seeing the antics of Caroline Reck and Cami Alys in the second session of their comical series Missionary Position: Pleasure Journeys for the Intrepid Lady Explorer, even the Sweet Swan of Avon would be inclined to agree that the female of the species is the funny one. In less than an hour, these two proficient performers demonstrate their mastery over all manner of comedic devices: the sight gag, the pratfall, the take, the double take, the pause, the pun, the dry witticism, the Freudian slip, the double entendre, and whatever one calls the feminine equalivalent of a dick joke. Others may wish to prolong the absurd debate over whether women can make people laugh, but for me the case is settled, with my split sides from this show providing the latest evidence for the affirmative.

Besides, there's not a jot of frailty to be found in Amelia Weatherbeaten or Eleanor Dangerbottom, the alter egos of Ms. Reck and Alys, respectively. These ladies – a term they apply to themselves and their audience with pronounced pride, as a sign of feminine progress up the ladder of civilized society – are based upon those Victorian adventuresses who trekked through every exotic and remote locale visited by other explorers of the age, only they did it in heels (not to mention voluminous skirts and petticoats). No diffident, fragile Ophelias, these. They may be a tad too pleased with themselves over their own achievements, a bit complacent in their cultural superiority, and a smidge clueless with respect to certain facts of life (though how uncommon was that among 19th century ladies, notably those of a particular social standing and privilege in the English-speaking world?), but you certainly can't call them delicate hothouse flowers. (And the slyness with which Reck and Alys convey their characters' smug sophistication and lack of self-awareness is more proof of their skill at playing comedy.) And would women of frail constitution publicly promote a product such as Hartman's Hygenic Towelettes for Ladies? (This primitive version of a disposable sanitary napkin – which was in actuality commercially available in the 1890s – serves as the springboard for much of the show's physical and verbal humor, including an extensive list of euphemisms for "that time of the month" that is memorable enough to be by itself worth the price of admission.)

Still, while this edition of the Missionary Position series runs counter to that pronouncement about gender in Hamlet, there is one bit of the wisdom imparted by Mr. Shakespeare in that play to which this Glass Half Full Theatre production does subscribe: "Brevity is the soul of wit." Clocking in at three-quarters of an hour, this breezy visit with the ladies Dangerbottom and Weatherbeaten is made sweeter by its swiftness. We're given just enough time to meet them (and our splendid hostess, Lady Hortense – a tower of effusive graciousness as played by Jay Byrd), to be amused by them, and to be given a surprise by them that leaves us in a state of delighted wonder, and then they're gone. We're left wanting more of these women, these confident, cultivated, hilarious women.


Missionary Position: Session 2

Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd.
www.glasshalffulltheatre.com
Through Sept. 26
Running time: 45 min.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Glass Half Full Theatre, Caroline Reck, Cami Alys, Jay Byrd

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