Let’s talk about the Allegory of the Cave. Because I know that’s what you expected when you clicked on a link titled (like the play reviewed here) Men Don’t Listen to Naked Women.
In the Allegory of the Cave, Plato via Socrates discusses a group of people who live in a cave forever and stare at a blank wall. They watch shadows projected on the wall, and these shadows begin to have form in their minds. Part of the idea is that they are seeing reality through various lenses.
And that’s exactly how this show is. Sort of. Bear with me.
Monique Holt tells stories for the hour that Men Don’t Listen to Naked Women runs. She tells the story (or her interpretation of the story) of Goldilocks and the Christian creation story (Adam and Eve). But she does it all through sign language.
Now, you know need to know sign language to see the show. Director Tim Chamberlain translates by sitting in the first row of the audience and verbalizing everyone Holt signs.
It’s an interesting idea, and Holt is a dynamic and funny performer. Based on idea alone, the story deserves high praise. Unfortunately, great ideas don’t always translate into great performances, and this is a prime example of that.
The first story she tells — that of Goldilocks — drags on for about 15 minutes, when it should be at a solid five. As she goes through each of the bears reaction to Goldilocks’ presence (after showing us Goldilocks’ reaction to the house), the audience begins to lose her. Then, she asks for audience participation, something that occurs throughout the show. It piques the interest, but then she has the audience members pantomime the bears’ reactions. It’s amusing, but by this point, everyone is pretty tired of the story.
Other than that, there seems to be lacking thematic connection. Not that one is always necessary, but the title (and opening commentary about “Why are women here?”) seems to beg for one.
Holt’s closing lines, and the final sign she teaches the audience, tells everyone to “not be a stupid fucking asshole.” If one was searching for a theme, this would be it. Still, it’s a bit of a stretch.
It’s a short show, and it’s an interesting one without question. Not too much happens during it, and aside from those two stories, it’s mostly a form of stand-up and commentary. On what, though, still remains a little fuzzy.
The audience is heavily involved, so don’t go if you’re the shy type. But for anyone looking for something a little different, it’s worth a look.
[Editor’s note: in case you were picturing this otherwise, Robert says no one with the show appears naked.]
Men Don’t Listen to Naked Women has 6 performances, ending July 28, 2012, at The Bedroom at Fort Fringe, 610 L St NW, Washington, DC
Robert rates this 3 out of a possible 5.