The women of Girl Versus Corinth are some of the greatest vocalists of FringeNYC 2016 – even at the mercy of unforgiving sound design, despite having access to DROM’s excellent sound system (arguably the best of any venue at the festival). With mics exchanging between vocalists onstage, vocals shifting from blended harmonies to solos, and synth-pop or house beats frequently overpowering densely worded raps, this caliber of show should have been sound mixed on the fly. Regardless, the music and lyrics that were clear enough to decipher were both well-written and performed. Riffs, belts and “girl group trio” harmonies abounded.
Girl Versus Corinth questions the relationship between myth and history, as Medea presents justification for her acts, armed with the waves of feminism as evidentiary support, until they clash somewhere along the way. The piece turns into a call to arms for women everywhere to claim their place in “her-story”. However, despite an all-female cast and female director, the piece is still written by a man, Danny Baird. (Not to reopen the Who has the right to tell what story? can of worms, but it’s worth noting in a piece that reclaims historically derogatory slurs such as “bitch” and “cunt” as terms of empowerment.)
Tara Helpern’s Medea read with spot-on comedic chops, showering the room in shade with one biting comment after another. The Furies consisted of Mary Wollstonecraft (Catherine Purcell), Betty Frieden (Anne Wechsler), and Rebecca Walker (Tatiana Wechsler). Tara and Tatiana are both unapologetic for their stage presence; the other two actors were just a bit more hesitant, but perhaps this was an understandable choice given their respective places within history (the 1700s and 1950s). Jelani Aladin’s mic-ography felt stunningly natural, Catie Davis’ staging effortless, and the subterranean cabaret venue was perfectly suited to Medea taking the form of an irreverent diva archetype.
The transitional text and scenes between songs were ambiguous for me. I love writing that doesn’t underestimate the intellect of the audience; unsurprisingly, I enjoyed the verbose text of the historical figures, such as Betty Friedan summarizing her theory of The Feminine Mystique. For the same reason, I found it peculiar that the show thought it necessary to explicitly identify its metaphors. Further points off for the worn-out we’re-in-a-fringe-show-and-we-know-it and stagehand-turned-actor conventions, especially when the show could’ve stood on its own feet without relying on either. (Although Michael Linden, as Stephen the Fringe Intern, riffs better than most, I’m over this structural device.)
Ultimately, although Girl Versus Corinth doesn’t say anything new, it revamps established conventions in this electropop adaptation. I would recommend it any evening, if you want to hear some funky music, superb voices and have a drink while Fringing. 3/5
Girl Versus Corinth is on at DROM, August 22-23 and 25.