Barbara Blackburn's hilarious "Extreme Girl" starts by showing us an American teenager who's, like, really cool and everything, and lampoons her possible destinies, from swimsuit model to biker chick. Wait, isn't there something else she can be?
By JOSHUA TANZER
(Originally reviewed in December 1999 at Currican Theater.)
As the lights come up, a statuesque French blonde reclines
luxuriously on a loveseat and tells us why French women are better than
American women. "When a French girl grow up, she feel she is
France. . . . She wake up in ze morning and tell herself, 'I am
ze Pyrenees! I am Champagne! I am ze vineyard of ze Loire!' When an
American girl wake up, what does she tell herself? 'I am Disneyland'?"
Fade to black. When the lights come up again, we see a teenager in
Like many of us at that age, she is full of desires and ambitions and
fascination with life she wants to do it all. Kiss boys. Kiss boys
deliciously. Be an archaeologist. Be Super-Archaeologist. This is the most
affecting of the nine characters in Barbara Blackburn's wonderful one-woman comedy
"Extreme Girl" you know she's going to hit the wall of reality a
few times as she grows up, but you can already see the beautiful woman she
could become. Yes, she wants to be popular and fit in and giggle with her
girlfriends, but she also
feels how social pressure could erode her authentic self. She even
invents a personal ritual to remind her to be true to herself. What will
this girl make of her possibilities?
|Written and performed by: Barbara Blackburn.|
Directed by: Courtney Munch.
Related links: Official site
As if to answer that question, Blackburn tromps hilariously through a procession of
female types that our society has to offer such a girl: bimbo, fashion
model, swimsuit model, calendar model, stripper, high-class stripper,
Charlie's Angel, Bond girl, bad girl. Each is a form of the
"extreme girl" of the play's title a woman who has become all image
and no substance.|
At this point, you might not blame our teenage friend if she gave
up and moved to Paris. But near the end so quickly you could almost
it Blackburn proclaims a sort of American woman's manifesto,
range of national heroines from soccer stars to the attorney general. The
same country that wants you to look hot in a bikini also has room for you
to achieve greatness, she seems to be saying.
Blackburn, it must be noted, has the looks and the moves to make
an excellent model or Bond girl, so she pulls off all of these characters
without seeming either bitter or miscast. But there's also a sharp mind
behind her script and a real skill in the performance. Brains, beauty and
talent just the combination the girls of America are going to need
to make their own way in this complicated world.
|DECEMBER 12, 1999|
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