If you want to know about Carrie Nation's life, read the Wikipedia page. The musical does tell us a little about her life - the death of her alcoholic first husband, her inspiration from God to destroy saloons with a hatchet. But it's also about a biographer named Frances who is writing what she thinks is another biography about a strong and interesting woman in history, when she gets stuck and has a bit of an existential crisis. Naive publishing intern Emily arrives at her door to help, and the two descend even further into the existential hole, aided by, ironically, alcohol. The story is a mash-up of scenes of Carrie in the past, Frances in the present, and a radio show that interviews them both, somehow. There's also a moment where Frances wanders through the audience talking about alcohol, and why we drink it, and what it does for us. It all feels very raw and almost unfinished, but in a good way.
Where does the music come in, you ask? There are a handful of songs, delivered by one of the characters standing at the front of the stage with a mic stand, like a rock concert sermon expressing their innermost feelings. Less like a traditional musical and more like a play with musical soliloquies. Even the staging is like a rock concert. Instead of sitting in Red Eye's riser seats, chairs are set up in a semi-circle in what is usually the performance space, with a small raised stage built at the back. This creates that intimate grungy rock concert feel that a traditional performance space wouldn't have.
|Megan Ward as Carrie Nation (photo by Amy Rummenie)|
Hatchet Lady continues through this Sunday only. It's weird and wacky and kinda wonderful, touching on issues of feminism, relationships, alcohol, activism, and finding one's passion. But does it really have to be about something? Maybe it just is, it's all its singular guts and glory.