Space 55's Woman and Girl Is Charming and Comforting
The setup: Local writer Charlie Steak's short play Woman and Girl follows its two characters through a stressful period of accepting change and learning to live together. (It's quite different from Steak's popular short, I'm Voting Republican.) The première production is at Phoenix's Space 55.
courtesy of Space 55 From left, Patti Hannon and Brinley Nasisse play the title roles in Woman and Girl.
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The execution: Some theater people (and audiences, for that matter) will look at something low-key like Steak's script and say, "I enjoyed it; it was well-written; but it wasn't a play." Such people want to see more overt conflict and/or a significant change in a character from beginning to end, which is a legitimate beef if you care about picking such literary nits.
Woman and Girl is more like a snapshot than a whole carousel of slides. It's less like a story with a beginning, middle, and end, and more like an image from the middle of a story or memory that makes it pretty clear what the beginning and end are like.
The characters do face conflicts and they do change, but those elements are subtle and lifelike. I generally like a work of drama that doesn't get all in my face about its issues but instead presents the behavior of relatable human beings from whom we can gain perspective on our own lives if we're open to that, and that's the kind of play this is.
One of Steak's aims, he told New Times a couple of weeks ago, was to share "what life in Phoenix can be like, once you get past . . . the main thoroughfares. I wanted to write about the desert; we're so close to it but so far away." The show's vignettes do have that warm, slow feeling of time spent away from "business" in a climate like ours; everything's worth noticing, yet nothing's urgent, and it's as though you don't want to move too rapidly or speak too loudly because you'll get overheated -- yet the daylight hours stretch into a scenario that makes you feel you have all the time in the world.