Can well-meaning, unscathed Americans reasonably expect to heal another country in the wake of war? That question is being explored again as the Women's Theatre Project revisits Necessary Targets, which made its South Florida debut last August in Miami.
"Toward the end of the [Miami ] performances, we were turning away people at the door," says Meredith Lasher, president of the theater group. "And then we started getting phone calls from people who had seen the play saying they wanted to bring their friends to it."
Six months later, after a struggle to secure a small enough venue, Targets is being restaged in Broward County. Eve Ensler's unflinching drama about two American counselors clumsily trying to help female Bosnian war refugees comes hard with rich characters, no easy answers, and an emotional hot poker. Best-known for writing The Vagina Monologues, Ensler is also an activist fighting violence against women worldwide, and her travels to the former Yugoslavia inspired the script.
Despite the play's emotional edge and Ensler's close association, Targets never drifts into a crusade. This is not an exploration of man's inhumanity to women. Rather, it's about picking up the pieces after stolen homes, murder, and rape. Most of the play is set in group therapy, where the narrative's movement is measured in breakthroughs -- sometimes subtle turns of phrase, other times hysterics. With its reliance on nuance, the script would fall flat without a good performance and the right stage. Fortunately, the Studio is just the right size. Those sitting in the first row could claim credits as extras. Genie Croft, directing the same accomplished cast of seven that she did in Miami, has a clear vision of the script. And the actors make each breakthrough feel new. The play isn't perfect. The opening scene suffers some unnatural setup dialogue. And Meryl Streep couldn't save the unnecessary closing scene from its let's-find-some-meaning tone. But it's no matter -- by then, the sale has been made.
Performances of Necessary Targets run through Sunday, March 20, at the Studio (640 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Tickets cost $20. Call 954-462-2334. -- Jason Cottrell
Like, For Real
There's a new term to enter in the book of misused rock labels, and it's called dance punk. The definition seems simple enough -- punk-flavored music you can dance to -- yet many of the genre's main players aren't serious enough to warrant use of the p word (e.g., the Rapture, a castrated version of Gang of Four). Leave it to Dischord Records to find a band that makes you wanna dance, rock, and think -- Q and Not U. Now on its third album, Power, the Washington, D.C.-based trio understands the importance of dynamics, mixing rhythmic exploration with straightforward songwriting. Singer/guitarist Chris Richards alternates his vocals between a disco-styled falsetto and a deeper, more authoritative tone, all the while plucking away at quirky jazz chords backed by prominent bass lines. As for the heavy lyrical content, well, when's the last time you heard Franz Ferdinand utter a phrase like "your fruits are falling, and they taste like bombs"? Q and Not U performs Friday at Revolution (200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale), opening for Interpol (see Music section). Show starts at 7 p.m., and tickets cost $23. Call 954-727-0950. -- Jason Budjinski
305 Fest rocks everything punk
Punk in the new millennium is as much about music as the Ottoman Empire was about footrests. More important is the lifestyle, the rebellion, the adolescent angst. And this weekend's 305 Fest is a chance to experience some of that subculture as bands from around the country convene for three days of music, movies, and general mayhem. The fest kicks off Friday at the Alley (1748 NW 35th St., Miami), beginning at 3 p.m. sharp with a showing of the documentary Miami Model, followed by more than a dozen bands that rock the stage till 1 a.m. Saturday starts at 11 a.m. with a punk-rock flea market, guest speakers, a viewing of the documentary Afropunk, open-mic poetry readings, and 13 more bands. The weekend wraps on Sunday with a 2 p.m. barbecue at Jasper's Party Palace (8025 SW 99th Ave., Miami), where five more bands perform. If the schedule seems a bit unpunkishly well-organized, it has to be -- there's that much going on. Visit www.305fest.com. -- Paul A. Leone
Not Just a Pretty Face
Steve Martin once famously said, "Comedy is not pretty." Leave it to New York City's "bad boy" Artie Fletcher to prove just how right Martin was. Fletcher is one of the new breed of comedians coming out of NYC who have made virtues out of their stunted development and their steadfast inability to understand the fundamentals of fashion. Loud, abrasive, and slovenly, Fletcher stands with this league of gentlemen, taking on the responsibility of being the comedic voice for America's lovable assholes. He's the perfect contender for a Queer Eye makeover. Fletcher offers his regular-guy insights this weekend at the New York Comedy Club (8221 Glades Rd., Boca Raton). Showtimes are 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 17, 9 p.m. Friday, March 18, and 8 and 10:15 p.m. Saturday, March 19. Tickets cost $12. Call 561-470-6887. -- Jeff Megahan