Smokin' Women, the latest theatrical presentation from Fullerton College's Theatre Arts Department, isn't about girls who smoke or Proposition 99. Rather, Smokin' Women mixes politics, sex, morality and high camp. Also add in dependable stereotype character images and an actually funny story, and Smokin' Women shines as a unique theatrical feature.
Clever theatrics is one of the things that is noteworthy of this production. Opening the show is a very suggestive, and very sleazy movie trailer of Smokin' Women, a low-grade,back-alley porno film, being shown at the Goodtime Theatre, in lovely downtown Cistern, Texas, during the 1970s. Then the action cuts to the outside of the theatre, where the play unfolds.
Here, viewers are introduced to several women who rant and rave with typical female splendor, while on a mission to close down the porno theatre. There is the school marm prude, the social madam, the good wife and mother to be, the sexy blonde, the social-conscious hippie, the extreme feminist and the stereotypical slut about town, who runs the theatre.
The stage is detailed with extravagance including authentic 1970s' costuming, lighting, the obscene soundtrack of the porno film playing in the background and a bum present throughout the entire sympaplay, sleeping in a corner, which adds a dimension of clever realism.
Ultimately, the play is exceptionally good. Written by former FC student Kimber Jerrils, the play clashes feminist activism with the patriarchal establishment. Basic feminist ideas are expressed, like how pornography degrades women, the sexist, selfishness nature of men, the issue of repression of women and the ever confusing battle on morality.
The play addresses these themes, and attempts to deal with them head on. Eve, the leader of the women, goes into the storyline with so much hunger, and is so pro-female, that by the end of the play she seems burnt out. After seeing the other women in the gang, who are so provincial, with the idea of "man as king" grounded into their heads, Eve's ideals start out as a new form of political and moral bonding,but end up as a way of liberation for the women, and making their lives worth more.
The statement made is that the women were just being "mad-as-hell" bitches, who made a stink, and that's it. It was tame, and the idea of the porno house died, but the women's consciousness was opened.
Ironically, because of a porno movie, six women learn about themselves.
On stage the play is successful, yet it would seem to be a better film than a play. The stage is too limited, where film could really enhance the physical, emotional and comedic elements. A good director who can capture the essence of relationships, and real life as Smokin' Women already does, could do a lot to this work.