So logic dictates I should be writing about Imelda Staunton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf …
… but I have something more exciting to tell you about. See, you don’t need me to say yea or nay on a big show like that, you need me to tell you:
LIZZIE FUCKING ROCKS OUT get yer goth boots on and OFF TO GREENWICH GO!
Oh, wait. You don’t know what I’m talking about. Okay, backstory: there’s a ROCK musical, a new one, happening in Greenwich right now. It’s based on the story of Lizzie Borden, the infamous 19th century American axe murderess (“gave her mother forty whacks,” etc). It is presented with four women who radiate rage, lust, fear, and a complete willingness to have fun with the metal genre all while singing like black canaries in a blood covered cage. I mean, how can you not feel the tension when you walk in and see the entire front row of the audience is wearing raincoats? When I arrived (late!), Lizzie (Bjorg Gamst) and her best friend Alice (Bleu Woodward) were rocking out in their leg-of-mutton sleeves in a way that was causing me so much cognitive dissonance I wanted to laugh and cheer at the same time. I don’t remember lesbian undertones to the original narrative, but WHY THE HELL NOT and hey, they actually did period appropriate dresses!
The whole thing from the start reminded me of an Emily Autumn show, only much more tongue in cheek and with some AWESOME FUCKING ROCK SONGS. I mean, the songs also really created character and moved the story forward, showing us the relationship between the Borden sisters (Eden Espinosa as older sibling Emma), the bad situation at the Borden household (a stepmother taking away the father’s attention and the girls’ place in his will – shades of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher!), and Lizzie’s slow evolution toward the solution to her very stifling life. I especially loved the tea and poison song in the first act, ending with some sort of concoction being poured into a dry-ice filled porcelain cup … rather a nice metaphor for Lizzie’s mental state.
The murder scene itself, while fairly damp, was in no way so horrific as to turn off any but the most lightweight of blood phones – pumpkins and hamburger in no way triggered me so I suspect it’s tolerable for most. And the second act, when the four actresses returned to face the consequences in corsets and fishnets, was such a blast that I wanted to jump up and cheer with them at the end. I haven’t had so much fun at a musical since Avenue Q. Can this be the next big thing in musical theater? Because if this takes off, going out to see a show is going to be a hell of a lot more fun … and no more fighting to get the kids to come with!
(This review is for a performance that took place Sunday, February 26th. It continues through March 12th. Do not miss it!)