Saturday, December 22, 2007
Whether I was fatigued or not when I saw Pumpgirl, I found Hannah Cabell's performance as Pumpgirl, a butch-looking but inwardly feminine character caught up in the dismissive masculinity of Hammy (Paul Sparks) and his frigid wife, Sinead (Geraldine Hughes), to be the only good thing in this trio of interlinked monologues. With Pumpgirl herself, there's a human element, and that's lost on all of Hammy's reckless tics and Sinead's aimless affairs; worse still, the glass-over-desert-scrub set aims to be reflective and transparent, but accomplishes neither, a fogged over effect of Carolyn Cantor's work (whereas with LaBute's In A Dark, Dark House and Rapp's Essential Self-Defense, she was far more colorful, both in design and direction). There's also a brutality in Abbie Spallen's script that, while perhaps accurate, doesn't ever seem justified or linked to anything. The slightest mention of compassion makes the characters sneer about how they'd like to hit their wives or kick a child, and while this leads to some creative lines ("The bed with the invisible barbed wire down the center" or "it's like being spunked by an elephant"), for me, the show was best summarized by this subtle zinger: "I want him to go, but there's conversation to be made."