The biggest ‘huh?’ about Denim Doves written by Adrienne Dawes and directed by Rosie Glen-Lambert, currently being presented by Sacred Fools Theater Company, is that in almost two hours with no intermission, and with all the time allotted to the women on The Broadwater main stage, the actresses were given, quite extraordinarily, nothing to do.
Don’t get me wrong. Recognizing the satire of this narrative described as a dystopian, futuristic, feminist farce, a middle ground between The Handmaid’s Tale and Idiocracy is a no-brainer. But as presented, the script doesn’t quite get its due. Nor do the ladies, really. Or the guys for that matter.
Denim Doves tells the story of a modest compound nestled deep in the woods of what was once a small Midwestern town (We never see the town or the outside and are never quite sure what has really happened.), home to five denim-clad sister wives (Why Denim? We’ll never know.), and their naive husband Penis. Although hoping to keep the group intact at five, they are suddenly joined by a rebellious Riot Grrls-like sixth wife who claims to come from a clan of women who are guaranteed to produce 12 children per household.
In this future, women are subservient to men. They are allowed no education, no liberties, no choices, and are even forbidden sexual desire. Of course, impure thoughts are abundant, but nobody’s telling. Their only usefulness and duty is to worship penis and bear children. The whole setup is lathered with sexual innuendos, representations, references, deifications, songs, and rituals. In other words, there’s a lot of sex, but it isn’t all that good. In fact, no one in this household is getting any at all, thanks to a completely emasculated Penis’ virginal apathy to the act and not exactly knowing how to use the equipment. Not to mention over-30 junior hasn’t figured out his own masculinity, still living in his crib, which in both respects, is actually quite, absurdly hysterical.
On the other hand, what we come to learn is that hardly any children are being born. Women are being set up to fail in their task. Older women who are post menopausal and/or young women unable to produce are eliminated. And much of this evolution is being controlled by all the hormones in the food. What we eventually discover via the multi-media finale, is that somehow, this is all a controlled situation to further a white-only race.
Women are getting the shaft in every way.
Dawes’ admitted fascination with identity and self-expression comes through in the writing. It also comes across as childish…a scream-out-loud-cause-I-can-and-I-will…look-at-me-make-a-fool-of-myself-and-not-care-what-you-think, element to it. For much of the attending audience, it’s the fun of the show. But it can be as equally difficult to get behind.
What’s most fantastic about this production is the sound design by Lilly Sorenson, lighting design by Joey Guthman, and projection design by David Murakami assisted by Sam Clevenger. Otherwise, it’s a tossup. You’ll either love Denim Doves or hate it.
Photo (above) by Jessica Sherman Photography: (L to R) Corey Walter Johnson as Penis, Janellen Steininger as First Wife, Lana Rae Jarvis as Fourth Wife, Meg Cashel as Second Wife, Evangeline Crittenden as Sixth Wife, Teri Gamble as Fifth Wife, Tyler Bremer as First Son and Jennie Kwan as Third Wife.