Review: A Stream of "Female Genius"
The Female Genius
Written by Rachel Carey
Directed by Cameron Bossert
Presented by the wild project and Thirdwing
Available at www.thirdwing.watch
Krysten Wagner and Cameron Bossert. Photo courtesy Karen Greco PR.
In its streaming incarnation, The Female Genius is divided into six episodes that each run to just around or under ten minutes. The six installments, each built around two or three characters, center on female writers from across almost two centuries. In the first, "It's Alive, " Mary Shelley (Krysten Wagner) propositions Lord Byron (director Cameron Darwin Bossert, also responsible for the music) during that famous summer of 1816. The second, "The Bitch of Amherst," gives us an Emily Dickinson (Bambi Everson) who is not only vociferously uninterested in receiving the visitor, Thomas Higginson (Timothy Thomas), announced by her sister, Lavinia (Amy Lynn Stewart), but is also just about as far from the 19th-century ideal of the angel in the house as it is possible to get. The third, "A Rose is a Rose," moves us into the 1920s and the height of the modernist movement, with Alice B. Toklas (Meghan E. Jones) questioning the gendered roles in her relationship with Gertrude Stein (Amy Lynn Stewart) and why it is that men are the writers. The next two episodes both take place in the early 1950s. "The Disciple" sees Ayn Rand (Maja Wampuszyc) pushing Nathaniel (Cameron Darwin Bossert), whom she has just met and who proclaims that she and Joseph McCarthy are the only ones "getting things right," to act on the philosophy that he claims to admire—specifically the part about how real men simply take what they want, and that includes women. "Separate But Equal," the most tonally serious of these short plays, involves a "believer" of a different kind, as a representative of the pro-school-segregation Southerners for America Committee (Timothy Thomas) attempts to ensure that Zora Neale Hurston (Delissa Reynolds) will indeed deliver the type of speech against integration for which they paid her in advance. Finally, in "Joanne," we jump ahead to the mid-1990s (which itself feels a bit like the distant past right now) and a harried Joanne, later J.K., Rowling (Meghan E. Jones) whose babysitter Kirsty (Krysten Wagner), along with emphasizing that she isn't willing to donate her services anymore, asks why Rowling doesn't just write a mass-market bestseller.
|Delissa Reynolds and Timothy Thomas. Photo courtesy Karen Greco PR.|
|Maja Wampuszyc and Cameron Darwin Bossert. Photo courtesy Karen Greco PR.|
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards