“This is right out of a Mike Hammer novel…all the books start with a dame in trouble.” A relationship play set in Seattle.
Woman Without Her Coat is one of the many plays from the Seattle Fringe Festival at the Eclectic Theater, Capitol Hill. It is written by Seattle native and longtime playwright, Jorj Savage. The play stars Chris Mathews as Carter and Laurel Clark as Ji McKinistry. A minor, non-speaking role is by Clay Campbell.
While Mike Hammer was a hardnosed detective wrangling with crime and the law, this play is definitely the stuff of ordinary life. Instead of crime-wrangling we have two lonely people; a young UW student and a recent widow from Pierce County, wrestling with life and their potential relationship. Carter helps a young woman stranded on the streets of Seattle.
The play begins with the UW student known as Ji who stumbles, heels in hand and stoned across the stage. An ominous man in a hoodie follows her around. At first I thought he might be Ji’s pimp. Later as the hoodie man fades in the distance, Carter appears. Carter, in Seattle for a memorial service, (we later learn for his wife) is nonchalantly heading back to his hotel when he comes across the disheveled Ji. Carter’s a seventy year old man and a chatterbox who likes to philosophize about his life. Carter says, “Understand the problem and the answer comes.” His favorite topics seem to be kayaks and old time music. He’s pretty content with life and has come to terms with things despite his share of ups and downs. Conversely, Ji is a bit of a shipwreck. She’s young and enthusiastic but she doesn’t know where to steer herself or possibly even which direction she should be heading. Ji describes her life as a “traumedy”- a mix of trauma and comedy. Her biggest issues are a failed marriage and her troubled relationship with her father. Her father is like a third, absent but relevant character in the play. Ji is bothered about his multiple remarriages and his relationship with women like Muffy and Suse-women as young as she is. She says that her father “dumped me for that cupcake.”
While one of the themes of Woman Without Her Coat, is relationships between older men and younger women, a more general theme is the nature of love relationships. An important theme is also parent- child relationships. Another concern of this play is about the generation gap. While Carter is lamenting that “back then, people told stories,” Ji is fixated on her mobile phone.
The play definitely has its funny moments and the pace of the play moves along at a steady clip (it runs one hour long). While the set is sparse, the actors make effective use of their space. Both Chris and Laurel are engaging actors. Lighting and sound is good. The actors manage costume changes and a set change very smoothly and amusingly. There’s an easy mix of bawdy humor and not too heavy life philosophy. While some aspects of the play are predictable, it’s very easygoing to watch. This is a funny play about ordinary people; people we probably all recognize.
Woman Without Her Coat, by Jorj Savage. Eclectic Theater, 1214 10th Avenue,(Corner 10th Ave and East Union St. Capitol Hill) Seattle, WA 98122. March 25 @ 7:15pm / March 31 @ 7:45pm / April 1 @ 2:15pm. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/woman-without-her-coat-tickets-31044664427 $10 tickets. Recommended 18 years +.
Yo Lucienne – Thanks for the review. I’m making copies. Thanks you so much. What more can I say.