The Amazing C*nt and Lil’ B*tch Take Raleigh — one of the eight 2016 Women’s Theatre Festival shows written, directed, and designed by and starring women — is a dark comedy about rape. A comedy about rape, you say? Yes, I do say. Staged at the very tiny Green Monkey, a gift shop/performance space in downtown Raleigh, with a running time of around 50 minutes, this play appears tiny. However, it packs an enormous punch.
A satire on rape culture, criminal justice, and the media’s interaction with both, this play is partly a counterpoint to the over-sexualization of Harley Quinn, a leading villain in the recently released Suicide Squad, based on the Batman comic books. In his analysis of this issue, blogger Justin Carl Gordon states, that “[Harley Quinn] was meant to teach young girls about the dangers of domestic violence and to be an example of what not to be. She is a tragic character.” However, recent controversy has arisen over Quinn’s portrayal as a femme fatale sex kitten in the Suicide Squad film.
Our play’s two heroes, from the brilliantly twisted mind of author Katy Koop, are anything but tragic. This does not mean that they do not experience defeat. Victims of sexual assault, The Amazing C*nt and her sidekick, L’il B*tch, take to the streets to torture and murder rapists. Rape Revenge stories are not new. Kill Bill, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I Spit on Your Grave, and even Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus play up the trope. Traditionally, we experience the assault with the character in order to find satisfaction in, and justify, the vengeance. The difference in Koop’s play is that our revenge-seeking heroes begin the play in media res — already justice-seekers, not victims.
Playwright Katy Koop and her sister, Sarah Koop, serve as co-directors for this production and have assembled a kick-ass cast of local talent. Nicole Benjamin plays super-vigilante C*nt, with passion, bloodlust, and just-under-the-surface hostility. Her vulnerability seeps through in a few key moments, and we both champion and fear her.
Molly Riddick plays the slightly sweeter L’il B*tch, giving us a beautiful contrast between the frightened young girl and the pissed-off woman she has become. Riddick’s subtle switches between these two sides gives the show its most honest performance.
Providing excellent comedic moments and multicharacter depth are Evelyn Gauldron and Kyle Bullins, both of whom portray both terror and sass with equal humor and effectiveness.
Karyn Raynor’s lighting design is the play’s strongest technical element. With very limited space, less-than-sufficient darkness, and not many outlets, she has used flashing neon-style light ropes to enhance and highlight the set. The cast operate the lighting equipment seamlessly, with transitions perfectly orchestrated by the Sisters Koop. The play moves at a strong and steady pace and no time is wasted fiddling with tech.
Victoria Peach has quite a number of music cues to manage. The play’s theme song, which she composed, is witty and perfectly performed by Sarah Koop via pre-record. Some more volume is needed from the speakers; but given the limits of the space, sometimes you do the best you can with what you have.
Master fighter Leslie Castro has expertly choreographed shocking and realistic stage violence without compromising the safety of the actors or the oh-so-close audience. Props and set, co-designed by the Sisters Koop, are appropriate for the story and make efficient use of the space.
Costume designer Emily Johns has created multiple costume pieces for each of the four actors, but everything is minimal enough to keep things moving without noticeable costume changes. The costumes are appropriately heightened and help give the play its edge.
On Thursday night, the sold out-room roared with laughter, gasped with fear, and gave some real verbal support to the characters. Through emotional flashbacks, sequences of shocking violence, and a morbidly sardonic wit, Katy Koop has written an exciting, powerful, and entertaining play that is well-executed and should not be missed. It is also the most effective use of The Green Monkey’s performance space that I have ever seen.
The Amazing C*nt and L’il B*tch Take Raleigh most definitely falls in Rated R territory for language, violence, and intense sexual themes.
The Women’s Theatre Festival presents THE AMAZING C*NT AND L’IL B*TCH TAKE RALEIGH at 8 p.m. Aug. 18-20 at The Green Monkey, 1217 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27603.
TICKETS: $16.52, with service fee.
BOX OFFICE: http://amazingcunt.brownpapertickets.com/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdY0Q0yRQRI.
SPOTLIGHT FEATURE: http://www.womenstheatrefestival.com/.
FESTIVAL SCHEDULE: http://www.womenstheatrefestival.com/?fb_comment_id=1073761796023880_1090693637664029#!schedule/trwge.
PRESENTER: http://www.womenstheatrefestival.com/, https://www.facebook.com/WTFNC/, and https://twitter.com/wtfestivalnc.
VENUE: http://www.peacelovemonkey.com/ https://www.facebook.com/GreenMonkeyRaleigh/, and https://twitter.com/greenmonkeyshop.
Dustin K. Britt is a Triangle native, holds a master’s degree in special education from East Carolina University, and teaches locally. He can be spotted all over the Triangle area either painting scenery or chewing on it. He has received local theater award nominations for doing both. He is a devoted cinephile and author of Hold the Popcorn, a movie blog on Facebook. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.