Soliloquy and emotion leave a lasting impression in Mia McCullough’s Impenetrable. Charles Waxberg directs the fractured, multi-perspectives as thoughts and feelings are brought to the foreground in this politically charged drama surrounding a controversial billboard in the suburbs of Chicago. In a paradox of pampering and objectification, SIS presents a moving display of feminist values, and humanistic desires. Impenetrable is a story that is told by its players rather than enacted, and plot takes a back seat to theme as the lecture on body image unfolds and commodified beauty gets a serious face-lift.
It is a play about women, and how the American standards of beauty leave everyone in the wake of shame. It is a public address that leaves the audience in a purgatory between drama and education, reminding us that theatre is a versatile art form that can be presented impressionistically as easily as it can realistically. Impenetrable is a play that highlights the actors, as the characters are all privy to each other’s thoughts. Kathy Hsieh plays Julie, a concerned mother who spearheads the fight, and her earnest performance is the heart of the message. None of the actors disappoint as Erwin Galan brings honesty and passion to sympathetic antagonist Mourad; Shane Reagan is down to earth and soulful in his portrayal of Pete, the insecure photographer; Ruth Yeo-Peterman stands in as the emotional center in her tortured performance of the misunderstood model; Sara Javkhlan is endearing and believable as this young actor holds her own in the face of her seasoned counterparts; and Lisa Marie Nakamura chews the scenery in her hilarious and heart wrenching portrayal of the overlooked Starbucks barista who is bogged down with negative body images, and embodies the themes of this moving series of interweaving monologues.
The fractured, impressionistic set (Kim Rosin) does its job of showing the centerpiece of the story, the billboard, while simultaneously leaving it available for questioning. It is important to remember that art can still be directily involved in politics, and SIS does a great job of bringing strength and character to the discussion of body positivity. The discussion doesn’t end in the playhouse, and is couched in the larger movement to celebrate women. The audience is encouraged to visit celebr8women.com for more information on the campaign. Impenetrable is an invitation to remain socially conscious, and SIS should be proud to present this moving lecture on how women are viewed and how women view themselves as the billion dollar cosmetics industry continues to thrive on our cultures sensitivities to beauty.
Impenetrable runs from April 11-May 3, Thurs-Sat at 8pm (no show on Good Friday), Saturday matinees at 4pm, and one special Monday, April 28th, at 8pm, West of Lenin, 203 N 36th, in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. Tickets can be purchased in advance at brownpapertickets.com, or by cash/check at the door.