Naked Women Fully Clothed
Poet Muriel Rukeseyer once asked "What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?" If the opening-weekend audience at Naked Women Fully Clothed is any indicator, the world would share a hearty laugh. This production by the Women's Theatre Project is a series of shorts that, at their best, examine women's lives honestly and with a wink and, at their worst, indulge in subjects that are redundant or uninspired. One of the ill-fated sketches, "The Meeting," falls back on lesbian, Jewish, and feminist stereotypes in an attempt to elicit politically incorrect laughs. Another sketch, "Lorraine," pits a woman calling about her car insurance claim against a customer-service representative. Many have dealt with the hassle, but if you want the audience to want to relive it, the writing better be damned funny and creative. It's not. Not even one of the top performers of the evening, Lela Elam, playing Lorraine, could pull it off. Luckily, Elam's talents are utilized elsewhere, like in "I Am Pastrami," in which she compares womanhood to the deli meat, or "Lemonade," in which she relates tales of lost lesbian love to a class of young girls through unsubtle but funny subtexts. Other highlights include "Big Fake Breasts," which evaluates the empowering quality of having huge knockers (or wearing a Wonderbra), and "Isn't This the Truth," in which the company shares the war-zone quality of public restrooms (not a new subject for women, but the actors offer a hilarious delivery nevertheless). Erica K. Landau
"Stan Slutsky: The Shape of Things"
Slutsky is that rare creature these days, a contemporary practitioner of op art, a style that enjoyed its heyday in the mid-'60s. Op art, short for optical art, traffics in illusion — the illusion of movement and of space as generated by the use of geometric forms and the precise manipulation of color. Slutsky, a Pittsburgh native who studied at Ohio's Youngstown University before settling in South Florida in the early 1980s, is a master at it, and it's not surprising to learn that as a child, he was fascinated with magicians and magic acts. His best work, like that of such well-known op artists as Hungarian Victor Vasarely and England's Bridget Riley, prompts a quizzical "How did he do that?" reaction. In his capable hands, a style that quickly came and went becomes a noble tradition well worth preserving. Michael Mills
A Doll's House
The proto-feminist statement A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, is quite powerful enough. It needs little amplification between the page and the stage. Unfortunately, this production finds Nora Helmer — the play's slowly liberated protagonist — played by Margery Lowe in a frenzy of dramatic overachievement. She is never quite believable and never anywhere near likable; in fact, you're more interested in seeing her silenced than freed. A shame too, because this production — with lovely turns from Gregg Weiner and Nanique Gheridian and a gorgeous belle epoque set by Michael Amico — could have been great. Brandon K. Thorp
"George Segal: Street Scenes"
There are 13 life-sized plaster casts of the human figure in this mini-retrospective — sometimes alone, often in pairs or groups, usually in public places re-created using found objects. Such was the approach taken by Segal, who died in 2000 at age 75, since the early 1960s, when he began producing the sculptures on which he built his reputation. This marks the first time an exhibition has taken an in-depth look at the artist's preoccupation with urban scenarios, specifically those inspired by his native New York. The works are a thicket of paradoxes, set in public spaces where utterly private moments are revealed, as much defined by human absence as by human presence. Like contemporary Duane Hanson, whose work Segal's is sometimes compared with, he was ultimately a documenter of despair, as this exceptional little show adroitly demonstrates. Michael Mills