A Second Look at The Goddess!
By Myra Chanin
As an off-off-off Broadway aficionado, I see a good bit of off-the-wall stuff … actually a bad bit, but when I see a brand new play that’s interesting, off the beaten track and done well, it’s a double shock which is why I am urging anyone who doesn’t have anything to do this week-end, to check out The Goddess, a Modern Day Fairy tale about open marriage really well done by a first rate, all artists equity member cast.
Proof of its courage? It has an intermission, which gives even relatives a chance to scoot, but not this time. My companion, a very sound sleeper, actually stayed awake during the entire first act. They play deals in an interesting way with a subject that strokes every adult’s libido.
The Goddess is not Marilyn Monroe, but Venus in a tacky short satin shmatteh who suggests to Emma, a barren, glued to her cellphone lawyer and the wife of Mike, an even editing on the beach publisher, that she should push the boundaries of her marriage by getting Mike to agree to openly pursue multiple partners. Emma, takes the bull by the horns and asks her husband, who has one eye on a bikinied blonde outspread on the sand before him, “Would you like to f ** k her?” Like any answer is needed.
Mike’s more conservative and reluctant at first, but at Emma’s urging, beds a divorced, lonely friend of the family that evening which inspires Wow! Hot, hot, hot once again thank God sex with his wife. Emma and her cell phone use her newfound sexual permission slip to circumnavigate the globe with whoever is available to play Sir Francis Drake to her Golden Hind.
But even bliss is complicated. Sometimes when Emma appears, home for a short stay between trips to Brazil and the Congo, Mike has plans for the entire evening. Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to resent Emma’s massive acquisition of Frequent Flyer Miles.
Then one of Emma’s “lovers” actually turns into a lover, splits with his wife and wants a real connection with Emma. And she finds out that she’s pregnant.
Who’s the father? You’ll just have to wait until the second act to find out. The night I saw The Goddess, the entire audience stayed put and saw Venus in shmattahs transformed into Venus in furs, but in a perverse way, from the waist down via skinny furry goats’ legs and hooves like Satan.
Looking Glass Theatre is dedicated to Peter Brook’s idea of “Rough Theater,” which never hides the mechanics of the stage but celebrates them with the audience. They explore a feminine aesthetic with a female artist at the core of every project, lest women’s natural instincts be sublimated by the desire to please the male dominated commercial market. Their goal is to create a community of artistic freedom: freedom from the pressure to be commercial, freedom from gender expectations and freedom from judgment. Commendable, but even better was their presentation of an interesting, well written, well acted performance — Tricia Alexandro and Richard Busser were particularly terrific — in Justine Lambert, Looking Glass’s artistic director, and husband Kenneth Nowell’s first collaboration as co-playwrights on a straight, not a musical, play.
The Goddess is only being performed until Sunday, November 3rd at the Richmond Shepherd Theater at 309 E. 26th Street. Take a chance and check it out. Who knows what you and your significant other will be tempted to do as a result.
*Photo Michael Priest