The female body has long since been a topic of conversation in books, magazines, movies, and TV. But what about the male body? What about the relationship between a man and his body?
War Zones explores the relationship between body and mind through the depiction of three men, all related in some way to Joann, the central figure of the play. We meet her father, a man suffering from dementia, her ex-boyfriend, a teenager struggling with bulimia, her husband, and lastly her son, also a bulimia victim. With each character we meet, we are shown how a man’s body can become a war zone, fighting with disease. War Zones seeks to discover “to what extent our bodies define us” (as stated in playwright Laura Brienza’s notes).
The cast of War Zones works as a unit, providing each scene with main characters and supporting characters who create abstract spaces. Joann drives most of the scenes, narrating how each of the men relates to her. Thus, we see most of these men’s opinions of themselves through the lens of a woman close to them. Director/writer Laura Brienza creatively uses her cast to physically lead us through the scenes; we are enticed by repeated words and rhythmic movements.
Joann, played by Marjory Collado, seamlessly switches from being a narrator to being a participant. She shares her inner feelings as the other characters move around her, and then snaps back to interacting with one of the men. She displays a wide range of emotions throughout the play, and handles them with grace, never falsity.
Her cast mates on the other hand, frequently miss the mark with their performances. The three men in the cast fall just shy of being fully committed, and when juxtaposed to Collado, their slight lack of commitment becomes spotlighted.
The production itself could have used a bit of work (mostly in regards to the acting as mentioned earlier), but the topics examined are fascinating. It’s not often that one comes across a play devoted to bringing more awareness to male bulimia and anorexia. In the play, the stigma that anorexia and bulimia are a female disease is discussed, and opens up a discourse in regards to men affected by the illness.
War Zones could’ve used a little more energy and excitement from its actors, but the overall topics presented carried a lot of weight. It’s insightful, and hopefully it will inspire its audience members to look at these diseases with a fresh attitude.
Written and Directed by Laura Brienza
Assistant Directed by Samantha Northart
Reviewed by Caitlin DeMerlis
Running time: 60 minutes
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?