Get Cultured — April 25, 2017 at 1:40 pm

“Pressing Matters” is a Light Ride with a Heavy Load


Molly Carden and Jenn Harris

Pressing Matters by Jennifer Jasper is a collection of one act plays focusing on the female experience in the United States. A topical production written meticulously to expose each struggle as lovingly and boldly as possible, the evening of plays, directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, manages to entwine the six plays cleverly, making the transitions as entertaining as the shows on stage. This kind of production has a way of having a ratio of hit and misses that ends up hurting the overall product, but the work here is more hit than miss.

Starting with the heartbreaking yet endearing “et-y-mol-gy,” Campbell-Holt gives us a glimpse of what’s to come in a short play that uses a spelling bee to detail a relationship from beginning to end. This is followed by “Inheritance,” in which three generations of women are explored through the eyes of the ones that precede them. Creating a nostalgic feel with sharp dialogue and setting, these two shows are followed by “Free Range,” a comedic view on motherhood and the sanctity of it. Jasper has a way with words in which jumping from genre to genre doesn’t change her style. You could feel her soul in each of these plays building up to the most accomplished of them, the act one closer “Oscar Clyde Denman.”

Molly Carden, Saum Eskandani

“Oscar Clyde Denman” is the first of two longer plays in the collection, and by far the better one. It follows the life of a woman that was abused by her father and developed a condition that will follow her through life. To say more would be a disservice, but the rest of the evening does not hit these highs. The last two shows, “Thanksgiving in July” and “Destination Unknown,” were the weakest links, yet they both have strong merits. “Thanksgiving in July” contains real heartache within it, but feels incomplete. It was born of an idea that was just starting to flourish, but didn’t have enough time to get there. “Destination Unknown” started strong, but ultimately felt like there was more to it.

Jasper’s writing is fun without losing its poignancy and Campbell-Holt knows exactly what to do with it. The ensemble was a strong unit in which each actor had their moment, while at the same time they contributed in enhancing the other’s spotlight. A dream team of thespians on stage, this is all wrapped together with a nice little bow by the excellent designers that carefully built the settings. A two hour evening curated for our delight, it gives us more than we bargained for, and we should be all the more happy for it.

Genesis Oliver, Ito Aghayere, Saum Eskandani

“Pressing Matters” will be showing at The Clurman Theatre in Theatre Row until May 20th. Continuing the trend of spotlighting the work of female artists, this play does not disappoint, and makes a strong case for women playwrights as the frontrunners to give a voice to this generation.

Out of four stars:


Twisted Talk: Have you had the chance to see Pressing Matters yet? Which one act plays did you like the best? Discuss below!

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