Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2022: "The Hysterical Woman"

Day: 6

Show: 19


By: Fortune's Fool Theatre

Created by: Ariel Pinkerton

Location: Rarig Center Xperimental

Summary: A collection of new and classic stories, news pieces, and poems around the idea of the historical and continuing diagnosis/accusation of "hysteria" in women.

Highlights: This powerful and moving collection includes pieces written by cast members, female writers like Mary Oliver and Emily Dickenson, and moments in history. Performed by a five-person ensemble (Ariel Pinkerton, Linda Sue Anderson, Rachel Flynn, Destiny Davison, and Andrew Troth), each piece is a little story unto itself, some funny, some tragic, all relatable. Stories about women at the doctor's office, or a conversation with her partner, or with a coworker. And when the interaction goes well and the woman is listened to and heard, the cast interrupts with "this never happens" and provides informative background about gaslighting, sexual harassment, or medical misdiagnoses. Which is funny because it's true, and we begin to expect it. Particularly impactful is the reading of Anita Hill's testimony at the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings, and a mash up of the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" with Britney Spears's recent testimony to end her conservatorship. The staging (direction by Nicole Wilder) makes good use of the Xperimental space, and the individual pieces flow smoothly from one to the next, comprising a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This piece illustrates the fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same. We still call women "hysterical" when we don't like what they're saying or doing, if not in so many words.