The fall season starts with a bang (and about 30 references to “pussy”) with MCC Theater’s Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties. Everything about playwright Jen Silverman’s cracked feminist fable—from the title on down—is a joyful, angry howl of empowerment and empathy. Here are just five reasons you should go, one for each Betty.
1. It has the craziest title you have ever seen.
The name MCC Theater is using is just the first seven words. You want the whole enchilada? Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties; In Essence, a Queer and Occasionally Hazardous Exploration; Do You Remember When You Were in Middle School and You Read About Shackleton and How He Explored the Antarctic? Imagine the Antarctic as a Pussy and It’s Sort of Like That.
2. The cast is kick-ass.
Talk about a diverse dream team: Glamorous TV veteran Dana Delany (China Beach, Desperate Housewives); Orange Is the New Black powerhouse Lea DeLaria; Ana Villafañe, who headlined Broadway’s On Your Feet!; Adina Verson, radiant in last year’s Indecent; and Chaunté Wayans, an actress from the Wayans comedy empire.
3. It’s the first perfect play of the #MeToo era.
Told in punchy, madcap vignettes, this is a play about women trying to smash out of their suffocating social or gender roles. The range of Betties goes from wealthy, uptight, superfemme and miserable (Delany) to a “gender-nonconforming masculine-presenting female-bodied individual” (Wayans) who runs a boxing gym. In between there’s a bisexual Latina (Villafañe), a lovelorn lesbian (DeLaria), and a neurotic, supposedly hetero housewife (Verson). Through satire, Silverman explodes binaries of gay, straight, highbrow, and blue collar.
4. One of the characters delivers a vagina mini monologue that kills.
Betty 2 (Verson) is at a party with Betties 3 (Villafañe) and 4 (DeLaria), who pressure her into examining her vagina in a mirror. “What if it’s ugly?” Betty 2 wonders, freaking out. “What if there’s teeth? What if it’s lopsided? What if it’s lumpy? Or flat? Or geometrically displeasing? Or what if I don’t have one at all and there’s just a small animal who lives there, like a lizard or a dwarf-hamster, and all I see are the gleam of its little eyes as it stares back up at me?”
5. Jen Silverman is blowing up.
The playwright just got raves for a show in Massachusetts at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Dangerous House is about violence against lesbians and gay men in South Africa. Don’t be surprised if it transfers to NYC.
Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties
Lucille Lortel Theatre
121 Christopher Street (between Hudson and Bleecker Streets), West Village
Through Sunday, September 23