Killing Women, written by Marisa Wegrzyn, is a raunchy, witty play about female assassins. The set (Chris Holland) is abstract and simple; black rectangular blocks shape the stage and several wooden chairs are moved around between scenes, but the show focuses on the killer acting.
Abby (Allyson Harkey), Lucy (Karen Lange) and Gwen (Allison Galen) are very different women. Abby has been in the business the longest and she is looking for a promotion, but the boss Ramone (Steve Ball) has given the position to another hitman. Lucy is the feminine killer, who tends to fall in love with every single target assigned to her. Gwen is a mother who is caught in the mix by accident when she murders her husband Baxter (also played by Steve Ball), also an assassin who was supposed to be Abby’s target.
The play is founded on black humor because it takes murder lightly. In one of the best scenes in the play, Abby and Gwen are in a coffee shop where Gwen is supposed to make her first real hit as an assassin; Abby is there is to prepare and train Gwen. Joe, the target, comes in (Scott Courlander); he is a sleazy young man who is rubbing his nipples and puffing up his chest at Gwen, while she giggles uncomfortably and tells him to meet her in the alley. Right after Gwen kills him, she leaves the body in the alley for Abby to clean up because she has to go pick up her daughter from school. Gwen is more flustered from being late to pick up her daughter rather than taking care of a dead man’s body. She runs off disgusted by the fact that next time she will have to clean up after herself, as if throwing away a body is a chore like washing the dishes after dinner.
Between each scene the cast performs well-known children’s songs:“The Itsy Bitsy Spider”, and “Do You Know the Muffin Man”, turning each into devious adult versions, “the sneaking cheating husband” and “do you know the murder man.” It’s so outrageous!
Director Jessica Aimone does a brilliant job with her energetic cast. I loved that every tune is performed with the appropriate hand gestures, or clap games, that belong with the song. At one point, Abby is jumping rope, while Gwen and Lucy hold either side of the rope, wearing and all black ensemble and high-heeled boots, and when she finishes, she turns to the audiences and says, “And I’m wearing three-inch heels, thank you!” These parts are so funny and mismatched that it’s hard not to look forward to scene changes – because they are just as entertaining as the play itself.
Killing Women not only is a black comedy -but it also has feminist undertones that show through the female leads, like Abby who is furious at her male coworker’s unfair promotion, which highlights the “glass ceiling” that women work under. Gwen, who is a mother with responsibilities, does not want to be an assassin, but is left no choice when she should have one.
Killing Women is a fantastic modern play that uses the murder profession as a metaphor for working women today. It’s a blast!
Killing Women continues through May 12th at Pinky Swear Productions at Spooky Action Theatre – 1810 16th Street. NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them online.
More information here.