Saturday, January 31, 2009


Photo: Joan Marcus

[I too would like to take a moment to introduce myself. I'm Wendy Caster and I'm a writer-of-all-trades. I've had plays produced at the Manhattan Theatre Source's Estrogenius Festival, my short movie You Look Just Like Him is being edited, I have short stories in various anthologies, and I also work as a business, medical, and/or tech writer, depending on the assignment. I saw my first show when I was 14--The King and I, with Constance Towers and Michael Kermoyan--and knew that I had found heaven. I'm delighted to be part of Show Showdown.]

There are shows that resist being reviewed. Ruined is one of them. Its topic--the endless, vicious, war-time sexual violence against women--is so devastating and important that to start discussing dialogue, lighting, or scenery seems trivial and churlish. I was so involved, so moved, that I spent the second act hugging my fleece jacket like a security blanket.

On the other hand, it seems equally churlish to ignore the imagination, intelligence, talent, bravery, and hard work that goes into creating a piece of theatre like Ruined. Lynn Notage's hard-hitting script turns the news coverage of the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (of which there is not enough) into the human particulars that make other people's lives--and suffering--real to an audience. The uniformly excellent actors, particularly the women, show us both the profound suffering and the quotidian life-goes-on-ness of people under seige. Director Kate Whoriskey calibrates the emotional arc of the story perfectly, so that each shock is individually earned. Ruined has already had an extremely successful run at the Goodman in Chicago and opens officially on February 10th.

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