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Company One brings feminism to the stage with ‘Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.’

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Company One brings feminism to the stage with ‘Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.’
Christa Brown in “Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.” (Photo: Photo: Courtesy Company One)

Company One Theatre is taking down the patriarchy with the New England premiere of “Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.” now playing at the Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts through Nov. 19. Written by Alice Birch, the non-narrative show uses vignettes of humor and surrealism to illustrate how women are oppressed daily in work, romantic relationships and family dynamics.

On the web

For more on “Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.” visit: https://companyone.org/production/revolt-she-said-revolt-again/

The principal series of stories is wildly funny. In the opening scene, a woman continually stops her partner’s sexual advances to correct him on his use of language — making love ‘to’ versus ‘with’ for example. In a later scene, another couple argues about whether they need to get married to validate their relationship. The woman compares marriage to robbing a bank. The use of humor makes the complicated, often politically loaded subject matter more palatable.

In a later scene, a woman asks to take Mondays off. “I just want to sleep more,” she says, putting plainly an often-shunned desire for self-care. Three different bosses come out to try and entice her to continue working heavy hours. They offer her a gym and a bar at the office, spa days and the ability to bring her dogs to work. The expert cast pokes hilariously at corporate culture and the oft-used ploy of plying employees with flashy amenities to work longer and harder.

The cast of four effortlessly morphs into myriad comical characters. The content’s accessibility makes it amusing, but also possesses a dark edge. “Revolt” points out that these situations have become so accepted in society they are commonplace. Subtle sexism slips under the radar day after day.

The narrative structure deteriorates in the second half of the show. We are presented with a family dinner featuring a mother, child and grandmother. The characters continually switch bodies while dropping hints about what happened within the estranged family. Then we see a woman kill herself from the pain of it all, followed by the characters running wildly about the stage, yelling. While this does have the disorganization of a revolution, per the title, it does so without a clear purpose or end result. Fictional worlds are created that we don’t have time to get attached to, which drains some of the power from the end of the performance.

“Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.” covers important ground that mainstream media often ignores. It discusses feminism in terms of language, cultural practices and the workplace beyond the dramatic themes of rape and sexual harassment. For this, the show should be commended. Every performance of “Revolt” is a step closer to a more equal world.