In Sheila Callaghan's new play, Everything You Touch, directed by Jessica Kubzansky, the hunger to be seen drives the narcissists and self-loathers creating and consuming high-end fashion during the disco era and today.
In this co-production by the Theatre @ Boston Court and New York's Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, a 1970s designer abandons his muse when a Midwestern Everywoman redefines his aesthetic, while a contemporary dotcom schlub with mommy issues picks up a dapper asshat in a bar to avoid dealing with her mother's death. Though driven by the un-shocking premise that society conditions women to find self-worth through beauty, the jokes remain snappy and the satire sharp throughout, with sly, imaginative design elements.
Jessica Foldenauer's witty costuming literalizes the objectification of women's bodies, transporting a multi-ethnic chorus of fashion models from the catwalk to the coat rack: After debuting in avian bondage glamour, the largely silent triumvirate fades into the background as sexualized props and furniture.
François-Pierre Couture's stark white set is littered with mannequin limbs, an apt metaphor for the dehumanizing, fragmentary gaze exerted on women's bodies by others and themselves. Kirsten Vangsness brilliantly captures the neurotic excitement of a loner beside herself in the company of Tyler Pierce's charismatic egoist. As Louella, Amy French confronts Kate Maher's delectable bitchiness with a wholesome equanimity.
Theatre @ Boston Court; 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; Wed., May 7, 8 p.m.; through May 11. (626) 683-6883; bostoncourt.com.
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