Review: "#SoSadSoSexy" Turns a Troubling Gaze Back on Itself
Written and created by Emily Cordes, Alison Leaf, and Kendra Augustin
With additional contributions by Simha Toledano and Jes Davis
Directed by Simha Toledano
Presented by Tapestry Collective in Association with The Tank at The Tank
312 W 36th St., Manhattan, NYC and via livestream
March 24 and 26, 2022
|Front: Lucy Prescott (Uma Paranjpe) is treated by Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot (Charles Kennedy IV). Photo by Ezra Goh.|
|Lisa (Lauren "Wren" Mitchell) and Isabella/Izzy (Jes Davis). Photo by Ezra Goh.|
|M. Boucher (Dave Rideout) and Lucy (Uma Paranjpe). Photo by Ezra Goh.|
Lucy will have her own experience with an inpatient facility, but even before that happens, a number of parallels between her and Izzy have already been established as the play shuttles back and forth between their storylines. Boucher, for example, encourages Lucy to let what troubles her manifest in her art, which raises the question of to what degree this is what Izzy's Instagram feed is doing, to what extent what she transmits to her followers is a commodified persona rather than an authentic exploration (as far as there is any such thing as an authentic self or self-presentation anyway). To take another instance, Lucy is surprised that the cabaret girls whose performances she admires must also work in brothels to make ends meet, while Izzy rebuts fellow patient Lisa's (Lauren "Wren" Mitchell) criticism of the type of content that Izzy posts with a reminder that "art" doesn't pay the bills. It is also Lisa who articulates that one must be beautiful, and read as straight, for one's suffering to rise to tragedy (or even, really, to be interesting). To highlight how far back we can trace this connection, the play invokes Shakespeare's Ophelia, and her most well-known visual representation, John Everett Millais's 1851-52 painting, certainly bears this out (Millais's painting was just a few years after Edgar Allan Poe's famous and very on-brand statement that "the death . . . of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world," and it is reasonable to assume that Poe would extend this to include the more general suffering of a beautiful woman as well). A suffusion of paternalism provides another bridge across the centuries, whether through diagnoses such as hysteria or promises of fame as mechanisms of control; a doctor (Dave Rideout) policing Izzy's appearance (with uncomfortable implications, depending upon how one interprets his questioning); or comparisons of women to dolls, children, and fairy princesses.
Cabaret performer Gabrielle (Samia Omari) and Lucy (Uma Paranjpe). Photo by Ezra Goh.
|Izzy (Jes Davis), her mother (Esra Dayani), and her doctor (Dave Rideout). Photo by Ezra Goh.|
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards